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UNITED STATES ARMY IN WORLD WAR II 



The Technical Services 



THE TRANSPORTATION CORPS: 
OPERATIONS OVERSEAS 



by 
Joseph Bykofsky 

and 
Harold Larson 




S UPER I WTEWDEWT OF D O CUMEWT S 
DEPOSITORY 



OCT 2 2003 



BOSTON PUBLIC LIBRARY 
GOVERNMENT DOCUMENTS DEPT 



CENTER OF MILITAR Y HISTOR Y 

UNITED STATES ARMY 

WASHINGTON, B.C., 2003 



Library of Congress Catalog Card Number: 56-60000 



First Printed 1957 -CMH Pub 10-21 



For sale by the U.S. Governmeni Printing Office 

Superintendent of Documents, Mail Stop: SSOP 

Washington, DC 20402-9328 



UNITED STATES ARMY IN WORLD WAR II 

Kent Roberts (ireenfielcl. General Editor* 



James P. Baxter 
President, W illianis College 

Samuel Flagg Bemis 
Yale University 

Gordon A. Craig 
Princeton University 

Elmer Ellis 
University of Missouri 

William T. Hutchinson 
University of Chicago 



Advisory Committee 

(As of 1 April 1955) 

Brig. Gen. Samuel G. Conley 
Army Field Forces 

Brig. Gen. Thomas W. Dunn 
Army War College 

Brig. Gen. Charles E. Beauchamp 
Command and General Staff College 

Brig. Gen. Urban Niblo 
Industrial College of the Armed Forces 

Col. Thomas D. Stamps 
United States Military Academy 

Charles H. Taylor 
Harvard University 



Office of the Chief of Military History 
Maj. Gen. Albert C. Smith, Chief 

Chief Historian Kent Roberts Greenfield 

Chief, War Histories Division Col. Ridgway P. Smith, Jr. 

Chief, Editorial and Publication Division Lt. Col. T E. Bennett 

Chief, Editorial Branch Joseph R. Friedman 

C'hiel. Cartographic Branch Wsevolod Aglaimoff 

Chief, Photographic Branch Maj. Arthur T Lawry 

*Gcneral Editor of the Technical Service \olumes. Lt. Col. Leo J. Me\er. Dcput\ Chief 
Historian. 



Ill 



. . . to Those Who Served 



Foreword 



The transportation of troops and supplies to build up and maintain the 
force of more than five million soldiers deployed overseas by the United States 
Army in World War II involved operations of unprecedented magnitude and 
complexity, both across the oceans and within the military theaters of the war. 
The movement of supplies for allied forces greatly increased the Army's trans- 
portation task. The two preceding volumes of this group have told the story of 
Army transportation in the continental United States. This volume deals with 
land and water movements in theaters of operations around the world. It 
surveys port, railway, highway, and water operations that constituted a major, 
and in some instances a controlling, factor in the prosecution of the war. Time 
and again the Army's experience during the war underlined the need for 
clearly recognizing the importance of transportation in planning and executing 
tactical as well as logistical operations. 

After the creation of the Transportation Corps in July 1942, transportation 
activities overseas became increasingly its concern and were carried out in 
ever-widening measure by staff officers and units provided by the Corps to 
oversea theaters. The focus of this volume is nevertheless on Army transporta- 
tion problems and activities as a whole, since other services also had a very 
large hand in moving troops and supplies within the theaters. The authors 
have told their story from the records and the points of view both of the oversea 
commands and of the Transportation Corps in Washington. If it is at times a 
story of inadequate performance, primarily because of shortages of trained men 
and suitable equipment, it is also a story of over-all success in delivering the 
men and the goods when and where they were needed to defeat the enemy. 

ALBERT C. SMITH 
Washington, D.C. Maj. Gen., U.S.A. 

1 5 December 1 954 Chief of Military History 



Introductory Note 



As is indicated in the Preface, the preparation of this volume was carried out 
under the general supervision of my predecessor, Mr. Chester Wardlow. Its 
appearance marks the completion of a comprehensive account, in three 
volumes, of the history of the U.S. Army Transportation Corps during World 
War II. 

Dr. Harold Larson served as Senior Historian of the Army Transportation 
Corps during World War II. He was Chief Historian of the XXIV Corps in 
Korea, 1946-47, and thereafter, to March 1952, Historian, Transportation 
Section, Office of the Chief of Military History. He has a Ph.D. in History from 
Columbia University, and is now on the staff of the Air University Historical 
Liaison Office in Washington, D.C. 

Mr. Joseph Bykofsky received his Master of Arts degree from Columbia 
University, and is currently a candidate for a Ph.D. degree in History at Amer- 
ican University. During World War II he served as an officer in India and 
Burma, where he was engaged in transportation activities. He has been asso- 
ciated with the Transportation Corps historical program since July 1949. Before 
that time he had participated for three years in the writing of the World War II 
history of the American National Red Cross. 

HARRY B. YOSHPE 
Washington, D.C. Historical Research Officer 

15 December 1954 Office of the Chief of Transportation 



Vlll 



Preface 



This volume, wliich deals with the U.S. Army transportation activities in 
the oversea commands, is the last of the trilogy devoted to the history of the 
Transportation Corps in World War II. In the first volume attention was given 
to the natiu'e of the transportation task, the functions and organization of the 
Transportation Corps, and the operating problems and relationships of the 
Corps. The second \olume covered troop and supply movements within and 
from the zone of interior and Transportation Corps problems of procurement 
and training. 

In this, the third \olume, the oversea commands arc discussed separately. 
This method of treatment was suggested by the nature of the material, by the 
fact that officers who directed Army transportation operations were responsible 
to the respective oversea commanders, and by the wide differences in transpor- 
tation activities and problems in the several areas. 

The Chief of Transportation in the zone of interior had no direct authority 
over transportation within the oversea commands. Transportation was but one 
phase of logistical operations utilized by theater commanders in the attainment 
of their tactical objectives. While the discussion in this volume will attempt to 
make clear the role of the Chief of Transportation in planning for and support- 
ing oversea operations, such matters are presented more fully in the other 
volumes of Transportation Corps history. The present work deals primarily 
with the Army transportation organizations in the several oversea commands, 
the operations for which they were responsible, their relation to transportation 
matters that were not directly their responsibility, and their position in the 
theater structure. 

In the main, the volume presents a topical treatment of the organization 
and major types of transportation within each oversea command, although 
efforts have been made in the introduction and elsewhere to orient the reader 
to underlying strategic and logistic developments and problems. This compart- 
mentaiization appeared to be the method best adapted to an orderly presenta- 
tion of the various transportation operations. An exception is the chapter on the 
South and Central Pacific, where the absence of significant rail, inland water- 
ways, and long-haul truck operations made possible a roughly chronological 
approach. 

The volume does not deal exclusively with Transportation Corps activities. 
Created in July 1942 with a relatively limited scope, the Corps assumed 
responsibility for operations performed tmtil then by other technical services. 



In the interest of completeness early water, port, rail, and inland waterways 
transportation operations conducted by the Quartermaster Corps and the Corps 
of Engineers are considered within the scope of this discussion. Oversea motor 
transport operations, performed by Quartermaster trucking units but usually 
directed by Army transportation organizations, are also treated. Animal and 
other means of transport are included where they were performed under the 
direction of Army transportation organizations. Allied, joint Army-Navy, 
Navy, and civilian transportation are discussed insofar as they affected Army 
transportation. 

The foregoing should not suggest that this volume is a complete account of 
military or even of Army transportation overseas. The support of the Army 
commands depended heavily on shipping provided or controlled by the War 
Shipping Administration and the Navy. Within the Army, air transportation 
was basically a responsibility of the Air Forces, while pipelines were the 
responsibility of the Corps of Engineers, and consequently these means of 
transportation received only incidental treatment here. Tactical transportation, 
that is, transportation in the combat area as distinguished from the communi- 
cations zone, was not a Transportation Corps responsibility and lies within the 
realm of the combat historian. Amphibious assaults and other combat opera- 
tions are dealt with only to the extent that Transportation Corps troops and 
ecjuipment participated. 

While the preparation of this work has involved extensive consultation 
between the two authors, there has been a basic division of responsibility. Dr. 
Harold Larson prepared the chapters on the transatlantic theaters and bases 
and the Southwest Pacific (Chapters 1, III-\^III inclusive, and X). The remain- 
ing portions of the book are the work of Mr. Joseph Bykofsky, who also handled 
the final revision of the volume as a whole. The index of the completed work 
was compiled by Dr. Rose C. Engelman. 

Although the authors have relied in large measure on War Department and 
oversea records collections in Washington and Kansas City, there has been 
some departure fiom this procedure. In the case of the Persian C'orridor, where 
the command was ccincerned predominantly with transportation, the chapter 
draws heavily on Dr. T H. Vail Motler's published volume. The Persian Corrulur 
(i)irl Aul In Russia, and on records collected by him. Monographs on Army trans- 
portation in certain oversea commands prepared by Dr. Harold H. Dunham 
and Dr. James R. Masterson were invaluable. Other published and numuscripl 
histories piodiucd in the Ofiice of the Chief of Militarx History and in the 
theaters also have pioved of great assistance. Interviews with /\rmy officers and 
others who {participated in wartime operations have been emj)loyed to supple- 
ment, verify, and interjoret the recoicl. For details on the scoj^e of research, the 
reader is invited to examine the Bibliographical Note which is appended. 

The authors are grateful to the many peoj^le, both military and civilians, 
whose co-operation ;ind assistance made possible the prochiclion of this volume. 
Only a few can be mentioned here by name. Fhe writeis have jjrcjiited Irom the 
direction and supervision of Mr. Chester Wardlow, former Historical Research 
Officer, Office of the Chief of Transi)()rtati<)n. His critical judgment and sage 



counsel have added much to this book. Special thanks are due Lt. Col. Leo J. 
Meyer, who, in his capacity as Deputy Chief Histoiian, Oflice of the Chief of 
Military History (OCMH), guided the work to the editorial stage. Miss Mary 
Ann Bacon, OCMH, edited the volume and Mr. Arthur C. Henne copy-edited 
it. The photographs were selected by Maj. Arthiu- T. Lawry, Chief of the 
Photographic Branch, OCMH, and the maps were prepared by the staff of the 
Cartographic Branch under the direction of Maj. James F. Holly. At all stages 
of their work, the authors received invaluable assistance from their own office 
staff, notably from Miss Marie Premauer, Mrs. Janet S. Conner, and Miss Mary 
Morrissey. The writers, however, assume full responsibility for the judgments 
expressed and for any errors of omission or commission. 

Statistical data on traffic within each oversea command were compiled 
during or shortly after the war, often by several agencies at various echelons of 
command. The authors have found frequent conflicts between sets of statistics. 
In such cases, where efforts to reconcile the differences have failed, the figures 
emanating from what seemed to be the most authoritative source have been 
used. 

The use of many technical terms in both the text and the footnotes has been 
unavoidable. Abbreviations have also been used extensively to eliminate 
frequent repetition of long titles of agencies and officials and to identify 
documents cited and the files and records in which they are located. For the 
convenience of the reader, a Bibliographical Note, a Guide to Footnotes, a List 
of Abbreviations, a Glossary of Code Names, and a Glossary of Technical Terms 
have been appended. 

Washington, D. C. JOSEPH BYKOFSKY 

15 December 1954 HAROLD LARSON 



Contents 



Chapter Page 

INTRODUCTION 3 

I. THE ATLANTIC AND CARIBBEAN BASES 8 

The North Atlantic Bases 9 

The Caribbean Bases 21 

II. ALASKA AND WESTERN CANADA 31 

Strategy and the Development of Transportation 31 

Evolution of the Transportation Organization in Alaska 35 

Shipping — The Key to the Supply of Alaska 39 

Development of Subports for Seattle 41 

The Alaskan Ports 46 

Rail Operations 53 

Motor Transport Operations 57 

River Transportation 65 

Alaskan Transportation — Post-V-J Day 67 

III. BUILD-UP IN BRITAIN 69 

Bolero Against a Shifting Strategic Background 70 

Initial Flow of Troops and Cargo to the United Kingdom 73 

Development of the Transportation Organization 74 

Co-ordination of U.S. and British Transportation 84 

Cargo Reception, Identification, and Distribution 91 

Ships, Troops, and Cargo for the Build-up 101 

Port Operations 109 

Railway Transportation 122 

Motor Transport 126 

Equipment and Supplies 129 

The Situation on D Day 135 

IV. NORTH AFRICA 136 

The Strategic Background 136 

Plans and Preparations 137 

Organization of Transportation in North Africa 148 

Port and Shipping Activities 152 

Highway Transport 161 

Railway Operations 168 

Evacuation of Patients and Enemy Prisoners of War 177 

The Final Phase 181 



Chapter P^ge 

V. SICILY AND ITALY 184 

The Organizati07i of Transportation in the Mediterranean 184 

U.S. Army Transportation in Sicily 189 

Transportation in the Italian Campaign 202 

Rail Transport 214 

Truck and Highway Operations 221 

Other Transport 226 

The Final Phase 229 

VI. THE INVASION OF NORMANDY 233 

The Establishment of Planning Machinery for Continental Operations . . 234 

Planning as of D Day 236 

Mounting the Invasion 246 

Outloading From the United Kingdom 260 

Beach and Early Port Operations 269 

Initial Alotor Transport Activities 282 

Early Rail Operations in Normandy 285 

The Transfer of Transportation Headquarters to the Continent 287 

VII. THE ASSAULT ON SOUTHERN FRANCE 290 

Plans and Preparations 290 

Mounting Dragoon 293 

Beach Operations 293 

Opening the Ports 294 

Initial Motor Transport Activities 296 

Early Military Railway Operations 297 

The Transition to a Communications ^one 298 

VIII. FRANCE, BELGIUM, AND GERMANY 301 

Transportation in Relation to Tactical Developments 301 

The Evolution of the Transportation Organization 303 

The Expansion of Port Capacity 305 

The Problem of Shipping Congestion 308 

U.S. Army Port Operations 312 

Movement Control 324 

Motor Transport 327 

Railway Operations 340 

Inland Waterways 354 

Transportation Corps Supply on the Continent 357 

Outbound Passenger and Cargo Traffic 360 

IX. THE PERSIAN CORRIDOR 375 

The Significance of the Persian Corridor in Allied Strategy 375 

The Period of British Operation 379 



Chapter Page 

IX. THE PERSIAN CORRIDOR— Continued 

The U.S. Army Assumes a Transportation Amission 382 

The Months of Transition 389 

The Development of American Transportation Operations 392 

Port Operations 393 

The Military Railway Service 403 

The Motor Transport Service 413 

The Close of U.S. Army Transportation Operations 423 

X. THE SOUTHWEST PACIFIC 425 

The Organizational ancJ Logistical Setting 425 

The Transportation Offce 430 

The Regulating System 437 

The U.S. Army Fleet in SWPA 447 

Port Operations 456 

Rail Transport 476 

Motor Transport 480 

The Transportation Load in SWPA 485 

Demobilization 487 

XI. THE SOUTH AND CENTRAL PACIFIC 489 

The Hawaiian Area — Pearl Harbor to Midway 491 

Safeguarding the Lines of Communication in the South Pacific 494 

Transportation in Support of the South Pacific Offensives 497 

From Static Defense to Offensive Operations in the Central Pacific .... 509 

Redeployment, Rehabilitation, and Roll-up in the South Pacific 523 

Transportation in the Final Phase of the War 527 

Postwar Transportation Operations in the Middle Pacific 545 

XII. CHINA, BURMA, AND INDIA 547 

The Strategical and Logistical Setting 547 

The Indian Ports 559 

The Assam Line of Communications 567 

The Military Railway Service in India-Burma 572 

American Barge Lines in India 579 

Motor Transport on the Stilwell (Ledo-Burma) Road 580 

U.S. Army Transportation in China 591 

XIII. OBSERVATIONS AND CONCLUSIONS 605 

BIBLIOGRAPHICAL NOTE 620 

GUIDE TO FOOTNOTES 626 

LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS 628 



Chapter Page 

GLOSSARY OF CODE NAMES 637 

GLOSSARY OF TECHNICAL TERMS 640 

INDEX 647 



Tables 

No. 

1. U. S. Army Troops Debarked in the United Kingdom, by Port Area, 

January 1942-June 1944 103 

2. U. S. Army Cargo Landed in the United Kingdom, by Port Area, 

January 1942-June 1944 104 

3. Vehicle and Cargo Deliveries to China and Burma by Months: 1945 . . 586 



Charts 

1. Organization of the Office of the Chief of Transportation, SOS, ETOUSA: 

9 January 1944 82 

2. Organization of the Office of the Chief of Transportation, AFHQ, 

NATOUSA—COMZONE, NATOUSA: October 1944 188 

3. Loading of U. S. Assault Forces for Normandy Invasion: June 1944 . . 253 

4. Organization of the Office of the Chief of Transportation, COMZONE, 

ETOUSA: 1 April 1945 306 

5. Tonnage Moved East of the Seine and North of the Rhone: 1944-45 . . 349 

6. Organization of Headquarters, Transportation Corps, USASOS, 

SWPA: December 1944 434 

7. Schematic Diagram of China Transportation Routes: August 1945 . . . 600 



Maps 



1. Alaska Highway and Connecting Routes 58 

2. Transportation Regions in the United Kingdom 78 

3. Lines of Communication in French North Africa 138 

4. Routes of the Red Ball Express 332 

5. XYZ Motor Transport Hauls: 14 April 1945 338 

6. Phase Operations, 2d MRS: 1 October 1944 343 

7. The Persian Corridor 376 

8. Calcutta-Kunming Line of Communications 548 

9. Assam Line of Communications: December 1943 569 

10. Kunming-East LOG: February 1944 592 



Illustrations 

(Following page 374) 

Movement of Troops 

The Versatile DUKW 

DUKW's in Use 

Ingenious Use of Terrain Features 

Widespread Destruction of Facilities 

Sunken Ships 

Port Congestion 

The Port of Antwerp 

MRS Operations in India 

Rail Equipment 

Climatic Extremes 

Convoys for China 

Overland Movements East of Kunming 

Truck Refueling Station 

Road Conditions in Burma and Iran 

Delivering the Goods 

Support of the Final Offensive Against Germany 



Illustrations are from the Department of Defense files. 



THE TRANSPORTATION CORPS: 
OPERATIONS OVERSEAS 



Introduction 



The entrance of the United States into 
World War II created transportation 
problems of unprecedented scope and 
complexity. Requirements for the deploy- 
ment of military forces and materiel to 
oversea commands and their intratheater 
movement dwarfed those of World War I, 
in which men and supplies were moved 
over a relatively short sea line of com- 
munications to well-established, protected 
ports for action on a single major front. In 
World War II much larger forces were 
e^mployed overseas on far-flung active and 
inactive fronts. Their deployment and 
support, as well as the provision of con- 
siderable assistance to our Allies, made it 
necessary to spread shipping over sea 
lanes encircling the globe. The reception 
and distribution of cargoes and personnel 
in the theaters were rendered more diffi- 
cult by the lack of port, storage, and other 
base facilities in many areas of the Pacific, 
the North Atlantic, and Alaska; by exten- 
sive destruction of ports and railroads in 
France and Italy; and by unsatisfactory 
lines of communication in such backward 
areas as North Africa, Iran, and India. 
Furthermore, amphibious operations on a 
scale hitherto undreamed of had to be 
undertaken in both the transatlantic and 
the transpacific theaters in order to come 
to grips with the Axis powers and to ad- 
vance on their homelands. The move- 
ment of assault forces and their equip- 
ment to and across beaches alone con- 
stituted transportation tasks of great 
magnitude. 



From the outset transportation, particu- 
larly ocean shipping, proved vital in the 
conduct of the war. Initially, no other 
logistical factor exercised a more direct 
limiting eflfect on strategic planning. Even 
before Pearl Harbor, the problem of se- 
curing shipping to service oversea areas 
and the necessity of developing oversea 
ports had arisen in connection with the 
strengthening of defenses of Panama, 
Puerto Rico, and Alaska, and the estab- 
lishment of Army garrisons in the North 
Atlantic and the Caribbean, foreshadow- 
ing the greater problems to be encountered 
after the nation became involved in a 
global war.' 

Before Pearl Harbor U.S. and British 
planners had decided to place the major 
emphasis on the defeat of Germany in the 
event that the United States and Japan 
should enter the war. The decision was 
reaffirmed at the Arcadia Conference of 
December 1941-January 1942. Initial ac- 
tion in the Pacific was to be limited to 
strategic defense. Among the basic under- 
lying assumptions were such logistical 
factors as the shorter Atlantic route and 
the availability of developed ports in 
Europe. 



' For a discussion of the vital role played by trans- 
portation in the conduct of the war, see Chester 
Wardlow. The Transportation Corps: Responsibilities, 
Organization, and Operations, UNITED STATES 
ARMY IN WORLD WAR II (Washington, 1951), 
Ch. I. On the limiting effects of the shipping shortage 
on strategic planning, see Maurice Matloff and 
Edward M. Snell, Strategic Planning for Coalition 
Warfare: 1941-1942, UNITED STATES ARMY IN 
WORLD WAR II (Washington, \9b?>), passim. 



THE TRANSPORTATION CORPS 



The execution of this strategic design 
was deferred when other and more urgent 
tasks developed. Aside from defending the 
east and west coasts of the United States, 
it was necessary immediately to reinforce 
Hawaii, the Panama Canal, Alaska, and 
other outposts. Although the strategic 
plans called for checking the Japanese ad- 
vance into the South and Southwest 
Pacific and safeguarding the air and sea 
lanes of communication with those areas, 
the execution required far more men and 
materiel than was originally thought ade- 
quate. At the same time lend-lease aid to 
Great Britain, the Soviet Union, and 
China was essential if those nations were 
to continue their resistance to the enemy 
powers. With shipping in critically short 
supply and losses through submarine ac- 
tion exceeding new production, imple- 
mentation of the long-range strategic plan 
suffered while planners sought to meet the 
more immediate requirements to the 
extent that transportation would permit. 

Far more troops were deployed to the 
Pacific in the first six months of 1942 than 
to Britain under the plan to build up a 
striking force there (Bolero). Although 
effective reinforcement of the Philippines 
proved impossible, American forces were 
landed in Australia and on South Pacific 
islands lying athwart the air and sea lanes 
to the Southwest Pacific. Considerable at- 
tention was given to the strengthening of 
I lawaiian defenses until the Battle of Mid- 
way eliminated the threat to that area. 
The longer sea voyages, the lack of port 
and storage facilities west of Hawaii and 
north of Australia, and the consequent 
delay in the turnaround of vessels resulted 
in the delivery of fewer troops and less 
materiel to the Pacific than could have 
been moved to Europe with the same 
amount of shipping. 



Other important areas required and re- 
ceived support during this period. Troops, 
supplies, and construction materials were 
shipped to garrison and expand Alaskan 
stations and to undertake new projects in 
western Canada, including the Canol and 
Alcan undertakings for the development 
of local oil resources and the construction 
of the Alaska Highway. In the Atlantic, 
reinforcements were rushed to Caribbean 
and South American bases and to Iceland. 
Small forces were also sent to India, half- 
way around the world, to conduct air 
activities and to expedite the delivery of 
lend-lease materials to China. 

Developments during the summer of 
1942 continued to exercise an adverse 
effect on Bolero. Desiring, for psycho- 
logical as well as military reasons, to get 
American forces into action against Ger- 
many, the British and American chiefs of 
state decided on an invasion of North 
Africa. The requirements for this opera- 
tio'n made it necessary to restrict greatly 
the flow of men and materials to the 
United Kingdom in the fall and winter of 
1942-43, and in fact placed a drain on 
those already provided under the build- 
up program. During the course of the 
North African campaign the longer sea 
voyages, the shortage of escort vessels, and 
inadequate port capacities added to the 
great burden already placed on shipping. 

Meanwhile, the hazards to convoys on 
the Murmansk route and the possibility of 
Japanese interference on the Pacific route 
had caused Allied leaders to decide to de- 
velop a supply line to the USSR through 
the Persian Gulf as an alternative. This 
necessitated the provision of American 
troops and equipment to take over and ex- 
pand the operation of Iranian port and 
railway facilities and to establish a truck- 
ing service. In large measure, the men and 



INTRODUCTION 



materials, as well as shipping, were made 
available by diversions from Bolero. 

Furthermore, although the Pacific was 
assigned the mission of strategic defense, 
the limited offensive beginning with the 
Guadalcanal assault in August 1942 re- 
quired substantial shipping. Port facilities 
at Noumea and other South Pacific island 
bases proved incapable of handling the 
shipping directed to the area. By late fall 
a large number of vessels had become im- 
mobilized awaiting discharge, a develop- 
ment that not only endangered the success 
of the Guadalcanal Campaign but also 
contributed to the general shortage of 
shipping, then being strained to the 
utmost by the North African invasion. 

It was not until the late spring of 1943 
that increased vessel production and re- 
duced submarine losses tended to make 
ocean shipping a less restrictive factor in 
strategic planning. At the Trident and 
Quadrant Conferences, the Allied plan- 
ners decided not only to go ahead with the 
build-up of U.S. forces in the United 
Kingdom for the invasion of the European 
continent but also to implement a pro- 
gram of "unremitting pressure" against 
Japan. By August the movement of men 
and materials to Great Britain had at- 
tained major proportions, even as Sicily 
was being overrun and preparations were 
being made for landings in Italy. Mean- 
while, South and Southwest Pacific forces 
had begun a steady advance up the 
Solomons-New Guinea ladder. In the 
Central Pacific, the Hawaiian area was 
converted into a huge base for mounting 
and supporting assaults on the Gilberts 
and Marshalls — preliminary campaigns 
to a general westward advance. Following 
decisions to undertake a north Burma 
campaign and to accelerate air deliveries 
over the Hump, the China-Burma-India 



theater was provided the service troops 
and the equipment necessary to break the 
bottlenecks on the line of communications 
supporting those operations. Shipping and 
assault forces were provided also for the 
expulsion of the Japanese from the Aleu- 
tians. 

No longer the predominant considera- 
tion in strategic planning after mid- 1943, 
shipping remained a conditioning factor 
throughout the war. The necessity of 
maintaining secondary and inactive areas 
such as China-Burma-India, Alaska, the 
Persian Corridor, and the North Atlantic 
and Caribbean bases, and of meeting lend- 
lease and other commitments to Allies had 
a bearing on the timing and scope of 
operations on active fronts. The effort to 
meet lend-lease commitments to the Soviet 
Union, for example, provided constant 
competition for vessels also needed to 
maintain American military operations. 
In addition, during the latter part of 1943 
increased U.S. commitments to the 
United Kingdom import program placed 
a serious drain on available shipping. -' 

Moreover, requirements for vessels for 
intratheater movements consistently ex- 
ceeded the amount of shipping the plan- 
ners in Washington provided for the pur- 
pose, causing theater commanders to 
retain a considerable number of trans- 
oceanic vessels for use in their own areas. 
Theater commanders encouraged the 
practice because of the lack of suitable 
port and storage facilities, a deficiency 
that led to the use of vessels as floating 
warehouses. Naturally more concerned 
with the success of operations in their own 

- For details on the effect of the Soviet Protocols 
and the United Kingdom import program on ship- 
ping, sec Richard M. Leighton and Robert W. 
Coaklew Global Logistics and Strategy: 1940-1943, 
UNITED STATES ARMY IN WORLD WAR II 
(Washington, 1955), Chs. XX-XXI. XV. 



THE TRANSPORTATION CORPS 



areas than with the world-wide shipping 
situation, oversea commands tended to di- 
rect more vessels to advance bases than 
could be unloaded and to discharge only 
the cargoes immediately needed, keeping 
the remainder aboard the vessels in port. 
In late 1944 vessel retentions, particularly 
in the European Theater of Operations 
and the Southwest Pacific Area, reached 
such proportions that they interfered with 
the movement of essential materials from 
U.S. ports. As a result, presidential inter- 
vention through the Joint Chiefs of Staff ^ 
was required. Theater commanders were 
made directly responsible for the economi- 
cal utilization of shipping in their respec- 
tive areas. They were directed to match 
shipping with the discharge capacity at 
destination ports, ban the use of vessels for 
storage purposes, and severely restrict the 
practice of selective discharge.* 

While ocean shipping gradually de- 
clined in relative importance as a factor 
shaping strategy, the availability of land- 
ing craft persisted as a major considera- 
tion. The decision to assault Sicily and 
Italy adversely affected plans for am- 
phibious operations in Burma. Later, the 
shortage of suitable craft caused the post- 
ponement of landings in southern France 
that were originally scheduled to be 
undertaken simultaneously with the Nor- 
mandy invasion.' In the Pacific, where 
amphibious warfare prevailed, plans for 
campaigns hinged on whether or not there 
would be sufficient assault vessels. 

Deployment overseas, involving the 
movement by the Army of 7,293,354 pas- 
sengers and 126,787,875 measurement 
tons in the period from December 1941 
through August 1945, was a gigantic 
transportation task, but by no means the 
only one.'' Intratheater movement was 
essential and often involved large-scale 



Army transportation operations. In all 
oversea commands, existing port, rail, 
motor, and inland water transport facili- 
ties were insufficient to handle wartime 
traffic, and in some areas they were non- 
existent. Consequently, it proved neces- 
sary to provide American troops and 
equipment to supplement, augment, or 
take over transportation facilities and 
greatly expand their operations. 

During the course of the war American 
soldiers were called upon to perform trans- 
portation jobs under every conceivable 
operating condition and on every conti- 
nent but Antarctica. They worked vessels 
at ports and off the beaches in the wind- 
swept and barren Aleutians, in the de- 
bilitating heat of Iran, India, and North 
Africa, in subarctic Greenland and Ice- 
land, on isolated and sometimes un- 
healthy Pacific islands, in the United 
Kingdom, and in war devastated areas of 
Sicily, Italy, France, and Belgium. They 
ran trains over reconstructed lines on the 
European continent, across deserts and 
mountains in Iran and North Africa, 
through the monsoon rains in Assam in 
India, and over ice-coated track and in 
sub-zero temperatures in Alaska and west- 
ern Canada. They drove trucks on the 
Ledo Road over the hill and jungle 
country of Burma, negotiated dusty desert 
and high mountain passes in Iran, hauled 
an entire Army corps across the length of 
Tunisia, and provided flexible support for 
American forces advancing from the 

' Throughout the war, the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff 
consisted of the Chief of Naval Operations, the Army 
Chief of Staff, the Commanding General, Army Air 
Forces, and a personal representative of the President. 

' Wardlow, op. at.; pp. 282-96. 

■ Lc-ighton and Coakley, op. cit., Ch. XXV; Gordon 
A. Harrison, Cros.'i-Channel Attack, UNITED STATES 
ARMY IN WORLD WAR II (Washington, 1951), 
pp. 166-73. 

'■ Wardlow, up. at., p. 99. 



INTRODUCTION 



Normandy beachhead. They operated 
amphibian vehicles in landings in Sicily, 
Italy, and France, and in every Pacific as- 
sault from the Marshalls campaign on- 
ward. They also operated river craft on 
the Brahmaputra River in India and the 
Leopold Canal, the Rhine, and the 
Danube in Europe. Often the jobs were 
done under great pressure, sometimes 
under fire, and usually with an initial 
shortage of men, supplies, and equipment. 
Transportation operations within the 
oversea commands naturally varied 
greatly in nature and extent, depending 
on the mission of the theater, the size of 
the forces employed, the lines of communi- 
cations that could be utilized, the avail- 
ability of local facilities and manpower, 
the American transportation equipment 
and personnel provided, the climate, the 
terrain, and other factors. The organiza- 
tions established in the theaters to direct 
transportation operations were equally 
diverse. The Army Transportation Corps, 
a new technical service created in July 
1942, made rapid headway in establish- 
ing itself as an effective central agency in 
the zone of interior. In the theaters, how- 
ever, it was initially almost unknown, and 



regulations defining its place in the theater 
structure were lacking. As a result. Army 
transportation organizations overseas 
tended to vary in authority and functions 
with local conditions and the desires of 
theater commanders. A selling job was 
necessary before the importance of cen- 
tralizing and co-ordinating transportation 
was understood and carried into practice. 
The Transportation Corps started out as a 
small service struggling to gain control 
over transportation functions exercised by 
established agencies, notably G-4, the 
Quartermaster Corps, and the Corps of 
Engineers, so that it could fulfill its mis- 
sion. Many problems were raised in de- 
termining the role of the Transportation 
Corps in commands where authority was 
decentralized to territorial base sections 
and in areas under Allied or unified com- 
mand. By an evolutionary process the 
Transportation Corps gradually grew in 
stature as the war progressed. In some 
theaters it eventually approximated the 
organization that had been developed in 
the zone of interior, and, while differing in 
the manner of organization, it ultimately 
assumed a position of considerable im- 
portance in most commands. 



CHAPTER I 



The Atlantic 
and Caribbean Bases 



The expansion of the U.S. oversea 
mihtary establishment, which during the 
war virtually encircled the globe, began 
rather modestly in 1939 with the reinforce- 
ment of Army garrisons in Panama and 
Puerto Rico. With the end of the "phony 
war" in Europe in the spring of 1940, the 
United States was compelled to concen- 
trate upon securing its own frontiers as 
well as protecting the Panama Canal. The 
somber prospect in May of a complete 
collapse of both France and Great Britain 
spurred the hasty adoption in the follow- 
ing month of a new Joint Army-Navy 
Plan (Rainbow 4), aimed at preventing 
the Germans from acquiring a foothold in 
the Western Hemisphere. During May the 
British Prime Minister made his first re- 
qjuest for a loan of old American destroyers 
to bolster the British Navy. Negotiations 
bore fruit in the destroyers-for-bases agree- 
rrtent of 2 September 1940, whereby Great 
Britain received fifty overage destroyers, 
and the United States acquired the right 
to lease naval and air bases in Newfound- 
land, Antigua, the Bahamas, Bermuda, 
Jamaica, St. Lucia, Trinidad, and British 
Guiana. These newly leased bases in effect 
formed a new American defensive fron- 
tier, extending from Canada to South 
America. ' 

The acquisition of the Atlantic and 



Caribbean bases added materially to the 
work of the Quartermaster Corps and the 
Supply Division, G-4, which were then 
responsible for Army transportation. Since 
the sites to be leased from the British were 
not developed, considerable new construc- 
tion would be necessary, involving sizable 
shipments of men and materials. The 
Army Transport Service, the branch of the 
Quartermaster Corps then operating a 
small fleet of troop and cargo vessels, em- 
braced barely enough ships to meet the 
requirements of the prewar offshore bases. 
After a study of shipping needs, under- 
taken immediately after news of the 
destroyers-for-bases transaction broke. The 
Quartermaster General took steps, in col- 
laboration with the U.S. Maritime Com- 
mission, to increase the transport fleet.' 
Although original plans for these newly 
acquired bases were later scaled down, 
their development, as well as the build-up 

' Mark Skinner Watson, Chief of St ajf: Prewar Plans 
and Preparations, UNITED STATES ARMY IN 
WORLD WAR II (Washington, 1950), pp. 106-07. 
462-63, 477-85; Stetson Conn and Byron Fairchild. 
The Western Hemisphere, Vol. II, Ch. II, a volume 
in preparation for the series UNITED STATES 
ARMY IN WORLD WAR II; Winston S. Churchill, 
Their Finest Hour (Boston: Houghton Milflin Com- 
pany, 1949), pp. 24-25, 398-416. 

- OCl^ JIB Monograph 5, pp. 42-48. For the titles 
of C3CT HB numbered monographs, see Bibliographi- 
cal Note, ijjj. 620-21. 



THE ATLANTIC AND CARIBBEAN BASES 



of Puerto Rico and the Panama Canal, 
remained an important defense project 
throughout 1941. During that year, more- 
over, the defensive screen was pushed 
farther eastward to embrace Greenland 
and Iceland, and arrangements were made 
for the establishment of a number of air 
and meteorological stations in northeastern 
Canada. 

A brief survey of the transportation 
problems involved in establishing and 
maintaining these bases is a proper prel- 
ude to the discussion of the more formida- 
ble problems encountered after the United 
States entered the war. Numerous other 
bases scattered across the Atlantic, among 
them Bermuda, the Azores, and Ascension 
Island, each had its place in the conduct of 
the war, but did not involve sufficiently 
distinct transportation problems to war- 
rant further mention here. 

The North Atlantic Bases 

The island of Newfoundland lies on the 
great circle route between New York and 
the British Isles, shielding the mouth of 
the St. Lawrence and jutting into the 
North Atlantic. Because of its strategic 
location, this island outpost was accorded a 
high priority for development as an Amer- 
ican air and naval base. ' Following a sur- 
vey of the island's potentialities in Septem- 
ber 1940, a board of experts appointed by 
the President recommended three sites for 
development. Army installations later 
established at these locations were Har- 
mon Field, at Stephenville, Fort Pepper- 
rell, near St. John's, and Fort McAndrew, 
in the vicinity of Argentia. 

Shipment of the first U.S. Army contin- 
gent to Newfoundland, originally sched- 
uled for mid-November 1940, was delayed, 
principally because of the necessity of 



finding and preparing a ship suitable to 
transport the troops and quarter them un- 
til housing could be provided ashore. After 
undergoing repair and modification, the 
Edmund B. Alexander finally sailed from the 
Brooklyn Army Base on 15 January 1941 
with 59 officers, 1 warrant officer, and 921 
enlisted men.^ After four days at anchor 
outside St. John's harbor waiting for a 
heavy snowstorm and a strong gale to sub- 
side, the vessel finally docked on the 29th 
at a small leased wharf. Upon arrival, Col. 
Maurice D. Welty, commander of the 
troops, also took over as Superintendent, 
Army Transport Service. The troops were 
housed on board until May 1941 and then 
moved ashore. Additional shipments arriv- 
ing after that date brought U.S. Army 
strength to almost 2,400 by the close of the 
year. 

These troop movements, coupled with 
the steady flow of supplies and equipment 
for the garrison and for base construction, 
placed a heavy burden on the island's 
transportation means. The leased dock 
and other port facilities at St. John's were 
inadequate. Argentia, the other available 
port, was developed as a naval base, and 
therefore its use by the Army was re- 
stricted. The principal means of clearance 
from the ports to Army stations and to the 
main airport at Gander was the govern- 
ment-owned Newfoundland Railway. 
This narrow-gauge railroad was of small 

' Except as otherwise noted, the account of activities 
in Newfoundland is drawn from the following: Hist 
Monograph, U.S. Army Bases. Newfoundland, ASF 
CE,Jan 46, OCMH Files; Summary of Hist Events 
and Statistics, NYPE, 1941, OCT HB NYPE; Rpt, 
Jesse Floyd, Industrial Traffic Engr, Commercial 
Traffic Br OQMG, Newfoundland Railway and 
Transportation To, and Within, Newfoundland (2 
vols.), 19 Nov 41, OCT HB Newfoundland; Hist 
Reds, NBC, May 42-Apr 45, OCT HB NBC Rpt^. 

^ Special Rpt, NYPE Immediate Base Garrison for 
St. John's, Newfoundland, transmitted with Ltr, 4 Jun 
43, OCT HB Newfoundland. 



10 



THE TRANSPORTATION CORPS 



capacity, its rolling stock was old and in 
poor condition, and heavy snowstorms 
from January to April often hampered the 
operation of trains. The few roads that 
existed were unimproved and could only 
be used for local movements. 

Under the circumstances the Army had 
to take measures to improve transporta- 
tion facilities. The base construction pro- 
gram called for replacing the leased wharf 
at St. John's with a permanent concrete 
dock equipped with two heavy-lift cranes. 
Work on this project was begun in August 
1941. To supply Harmon Field with gaso- 
line and oil a pipeline was extended into 
Bay St. George for direct discharge from 
tankers anchored offshore. Considerable 
American financial assistance and a mod- 
est amount of equipment were furnished 
for the rehabilitation of the railway, some 
new road construction was undertaken, 
and a temporary pier was erected at 
Argentia. 

Pending completion of these projects, 
the volume of inbound traffic inevitably 
exceeded the capacity of the local trans- 
portation system. Port congestion, already 
evident at St. John's in September 1941, 
remained a problem throughout the ensu- 
ing fall and winter months. Limited port 
and rail facilities, together with snow, 
gales, and fogs, delayed cargo discharge 
and clearance and compelled many vessels 
to wait for a berth. Unsatisfactory condi- 
tions for cargo discharge contributed to 
the congestion at the port.' Vessels with 
cargo requiring heavy lift equipment ini- 
tially had to be lightened and moved 
across the harbor to the large crane at the 
Newfoundland Railway docks. Action to 
solve this problem was taken in June 1941, 
when G-4 requested that wherever possi- 
ble ships employed on the Newfoundland 
run be not over 25 -foot draft and author- 



ized the purchase of two 500-horsepower 
tugs for use at St. John's.'' 

More persistent were the difficulties 
with local longshoremen, who did their 
work in a leisurely fashion and in one in- 
stance, upon discovering they were han- 
dling explosives, went on strike for higher 
wages in the midst of discharging a vessel. 
By late October 1941, refusal of the long- 
shdremen's union to permit port opera- 
tions for more than ten hours a day had so 
delayed cargo discharge as to hinder the 
local construction program, leading the 
Secretary of War to request American 
representation to the British Embassy and 
the Newfoundland Government regarding 
the urgent need of full-time operation at 
the Newfoundland ports." 

The difficulty in unloading and clearing 
cargo at St. John's caused The Quarter- 
master General in January 1942 to ques- 
tion the wisdom of completing the new 
American dock at the eastern end of the 
harbor away from the railway yards, and 
led him to urge the Corps of Engineers to 
develop a secondary port at Argentia.^ But 
the crisis was already passing. Although 
U.S. Army ground and air strength con- 
tinued to grow, reaching a peak of about 
10,500 troops in June 1943, curtailment of 
the construction program beginning early 
in 1942 brought a general reduction in 
shipping requirements. 

The problem of port capacity was defi- 

■' The story of the unloading of the Leonard Wood in 
May 1941 illustrates the difficulties encountered at St. 
John's. For details, see Extracted Rpt, CO Troops 
USAT Leonard Wood lo ACofS G-4 Trans Sec WD, 17 
May 4 1 , OCT HB NBC Misc. 

'• Memo, Actg ACofS G-4 to TQMG, 6Jun 41, sub: 
Remarks and Recommendations . . . USAT Leonard 
Wood, G-4/32033-2. 

' Ltr, SW to Secy State, 25 Oct 41, WPD 4351-9. 
Cf Memo For Red Only, 29 Oct 41, G-4/32033-2. 

" See corrcs, 9 Jan-26 Mar 42, OQMG 557 New- 
foundland. 



THE ATLANTIC AND CARIBBEAN BASES 



11 



nitely eased in February 1943, when oper- 
ations began at the new U.S. Army dock 
at St. John's. Finally completed on 15 
March, the 605-foot dock and wooden 
transit shed proved adequate for the re- 
duced traffic, and two new electrically 
operated gantry cranes, each with a capac- 
ity of thirty tons, added to the efficiency of 
operations. By this time construction was 
drawing to a close, and existing port and 
rail facilities were fully capable of han- 
dling the maintenance of a fairly static 
garrison and the delivery of aviation gaso- 
line and other operating requirements to 
the airfields. Newfoundland remained an 
important U.S. air and naval base, with 
St. John's as the principal Army port. 

The Crimson and Crystal Bases 

U.S. Army transportation activity in 
northeastern Canada was a direct out- 
growth of the development of the air ferry 
route to the United Kingdom. The British 
and Canadians in late 1940 had begun to 
ferry bombers directly across the Atlantic 
from Gander, Newfoundland, to Prest- 
wick, Scotland, a nonstop flight of about 
2,100 miles. Despite impressive results, the 
route had serious shortcomings. The 
weather was often hazardous, and the dis- 
tance from Newfoundland to Scotland was 
too great for short-range aircraft. The 
inauguration of the lend-lease program in 
March 1941 pointed up the need for a 
more northerly air ferry route that would 
take advantage of the steppingstones to 
Britain afforded by Newfoundland, Green- 
land, and Iceland.'' 

At the War Department's direction, sur- 
veys of possible landing fields in Labrador 
and on Baffin Island were made during 
June and July 1941. Four sites were 
selected, but since ice and snow would seal 
off'the area before any major construction 



could be completed in that year, it was 
suggested that they be manned and 
equipped as weather stations. On the basis 
of this recommendation, arctic weather 
stations were established at Fort Chimo, 
(Crystal I), Labrador, at the upper end 
of Frobisher Bay (Crystal II), and on 
Padloping Island (Crystal III), off" the 
northeast coast of Baffin Island. The 
Crystal inovement, involving shipment 
from Boston of a small detachment for 
each station, arctic housing, technical 
equipment for communications and 
weather service, aviation gasoline, and 
food and fuel reserves, was effected in the 
fall of 1941 by the US AT Sialien, five 
trawlers, and three small Norwegian ves- 
sels added to the fleet during a stop at 
Halifax. 

The movement, begun on 21 Septem- 
ber 1941, was made over a long and haz- 
ardous route and presented a number of 
unusual problems. Since the Crystal 
stations were accessible only to compara- 
tively small vessels, it was necessary to 
transfer the Sicilien''?, cargo to the other 
ships for final delivery. This was partially 
accomplished at Halifax and was com- 
pleted at Port Burwell Harbor, the ren- 
dezvous near Crystal I from which the 
final runs were made. Because of ice and 
snow, tides up to forty-two feet, and un- 
satisfactory charts and soundings, the 
utmost caution had to be exercised. At 
each base the same procedure was fol- 
lowed. Spurred on by extra pay, the sea- 
men turned to and assisted in cargo dis- 



^ For a convenient summary, see Samuel Milner, 
"Establishing the Bolero Ferry Route," Military Affairs, 
XI, 4 (Winter 1947). 213-22. On the Air Corps Ferr>- 
ing Command (later renamed the Air Transport Com- 
mand), see Wesley Frank Craven and James Lea Cate 
(eds.). The Army Air Forces in World War II, I, Plans and 
Early Operations: January 1939 to August 1942 (Chicago: 
The University of Chicago Press, 1948) (hereafter 
cited as AAF, I), 314-18, 346-47, 362-63. 



12 



THE TRANSPORTATION CORPS 



charge. Eskimos helped as pilots and 
laborers. After cargo was lightered ashore, 
a small engineer detachment erected pre- 
fabricated housing, installed communica- 
tions equipment and weather-recording 
apparatus, and laid in supplies and fuel 
for the radio and weather men assigned to 
maintain a lonely vigil through the long 
winter months. By late November the ex- 
pedition had left the area, having success- 
fully carried out a difficult assignment 
under discouraging conditions. '" 

U.S. Army operations in northeastern 
Canada received fresh impetus when the 
air ferry program underwent rapid expan- 
sion following the entry of the United 
States into the war. The main route under 
development, extending from Presque 
Isle, Maine, via Labrador, Greenland, 
Iceland, to Prestwick, Scotland, involved 
a long hop from Goose Bay, Labrador, to 
Narsarssuak, Greenland. To facilitate the 
rapid delivery of long-range and short- 
range aircraft to the British Isles, the 
United States and Canada in the summer 
of 1942 joined in a co-operative venture, 
the Crimson Project, designed to set up in 
central and northeastern Canada a series 
of airfields, 400 to 500 miles apart, situated 
along alternate routes to permit a choice 
of landing fields in the event of bad 
weather." 

To provide for the movement of the men 
and materials necessary for construction 
of the Crimson bases in the Hudson Bay 
area, the War Department established a 
port operation on the bay at Churchill in 
Manitoba. Originally developed for the 
export of Canadian wheat, Churchill was 
linked with The Pas, the nearest inland 
settlement of any size, by a standard- 
gauge single-track rail line, approximately 
510 miles long. The port's water-front 
facilities included an 1,800-foot wharf and 



a large storage shed, both served by rail; 
equipment for loading and unloading 
ships and rail cars with grain and general 
cargo; and a marine repair yard. Ships of 
28-foot draft could be berthed at all stages 
of the tide. The port was accessible to 
ocean-going vessels from the latter part of 
July to mid-October; thereafter, high 
winds, heavy snow, ice, and sub-zero tem- 
peratures halted port operations.' ' 

U.S. Army marine activity at Churchill 
got under way after a hasty survey in mid- 
June 1942 by Paul C. Grening, a former 
sea captain then serving as a civilian con- 
sultant in the Office of the Chief of Trans- 
portation. Early in July port personnel 
were selected, and by arrangement with 
Canadian transportation officials all rail- 
way facilities and dock equipment at 
Churchill were placed at the U.S. Army's 
disposal, as were all Canadian craft in the 
Hudson Bay area.'" Preceded by the 



'" On the Crystal stations, see the following: Rpt, 
Capt Paul C. Grening to TQMG, 9 Dec 4 1 ; Personal 
Journal of Comdr Alexander Forbes, Sep-Oct 41; In- 
formal Rpt, Forbes to Col Howard Craig [Nov 41]. All 
in OCT HB North America Crystal. See also Hist 
Monograph, U.S. Army Base, Frobisher Bay, NAD 
CE, Mar 46, Supplements 1 and 2, OCMH Files. 

' ' Milner, be. at.; Memo, CG AAF for CofE, 1 Jun 
42, sub: Addtl Rqmts, NE Ferry Route, in Supple- 
ment 4, Hist Monograph, U.S. Army Base, Fort 
Chimo, NAD CE, Mar 46, OCMH Files; AG Ltr 
320.2 (7-23-42) MS-E-M, 27 Jul 42, sub: Comd, Sup, 
and Adm, Crimson Project; Stetson Conn and Byron 
Fairchild, The Western Hemisphere, Vol. I, The 
Framework of Hemisphere Defense, Ch. XHI, pp. 
47-54, a volume in preparation for the series 
UNITED STATES ARMY IN WORLD WAR II. 

' ■ Memo, Chief Rail Di\' for Brig Gen Theodore H. 
Dillon, 13 Jun 42, sub: Rail Facilities at Churchill 
.... OCT HB North America Crimson Project; 
Hist Monograjih, U.S. Army Bases, Churchill. NAD 
CE,Jan 46, pp. II-l, IV-9-10, VI-4, OCMH Files. 

' ' Memo, Grening for George W. Auxier, 9 Dec 42, 
sub: Hist Statement re Churchill PE; Memo. Exec 
OCT for CG SOS, 1 Jul 42, sub: Port Bn and Port Hq 
for Churchill; Memo, Col Norman H. Vissering for 
CofT, 4 Jul 42, sub: Rpt on Conf with Canadian Offi- 
cials. All in OCT HB Ocean Trans Ports Churchill. 



THE ATLANTIC AND CARIBBEAN BASES 



13 



389lh Port Battalion and a small group of 
civilians experienced in cargo handling, 
the recently activated I'ith Port, com- 
manded by Lt. Col. (later Col.) Curtis A. 
Noble, arrived by rail at Churchill on 19 
July. With the assistance of the civilian 
component, the port troops operated at 
Churchill during the brief open season, 
receiving shipments by rail from the south 
and outloading them on vessels for delivery 
to air bases then under construction in the 
Hudson Bay area.' ' 

By the end of the shipping season, a 
total of 626 passengers and 25,310 weight 
tons had been shipped. The bulk of the 
cargo was moved to Southampton Island, 
Fort Chimo, and upper Frobisher Bay, 
with small tonnages going to various 
weather stations. Deliveries to these bases 
were hampered by the hazardous waters 
and adverse weather of the Hudson Bay 
area and the necessity of lightering all 
cargo from ship to shore at destination. 
Altogether, it was a small and costly oper- 
ation involving twenty vessels. Colonel 
Noble and his men returned to the United 
States in November 1942, leaving behind 
at Churchill 115 carloads of Engineer and 
Signal Corps supplies that had arrived too 
late for shipment. 

Despite planning in the Office of the 
Chief of Transportation at Washington, 
U.S. Army port operations were never re- 
sumed at Churchill. Instead, the installa- 
tions in the Hudson Bay area were sup- 
plied directly by water from Boston.' ' The 
utility of Churchill was severely limited 
because of the port's brief open season and 
the long rail haul from its source of sup- 
ply. More important, the Hudson Bay 
routes that it served proved of limited 
wartime value. This resulted from the fact 
that increasingly large numbers of assem- 
bled aircraft were being delivered to the 



United Kingdom as deckloads on tankers 
and Liberty ships, while improved facil- 
ities at air bases, advances in aircraft range 
and dependability, and better weather 
data made possible increasingly heavy 
movement of airplanes over the main ferry 
routes through Labrador and Newfound- 
land without recourse to additional step- 
pingstones in northeastern Canada.'" 

Greenland 

A huge island lying northeast of Labra- 
dor, Greenland formed a vital part of the 
protective screen shielding the east coast 
of North America and became an im- 
portant way station on the North Atlantic 
air route. A country of ice, snow, and cold, 
the rugged coast with its deeply indented 
fjords offered magnificent scenery but al- 
most no port facilities. For much of the 
year ice blocked the approaches from the 
sea, and ice floes were a serious hazard for 
all shipping. The mining town of Ivigtut, 
the most developed settlement, had the 
only road in Greenland, stretching about 
two miles back from a small artificial har- 
bor with a single pier for loading cryolite, 
a mineral used in the production of 
aluminum. 

While preliminary inspections by the 
U.S. Army and Navy of several possible 



' ' On port operations at Churchill, sec Port Log. 
12th PE, Churchill, 12 Jul- 15 Oct 42, and Hist, 12th 
Port, 5 Jul- 13 Nov 42, OCT HB Oversea Ports; 
Memo, Vissering, Trans Member, for Chmn North 
Atlantic Ferry Route, 8 Nov 42, sub: Resume of 
Trans Activities in Connection with the Crimson 
Project, OCT HB Ocean Trans Ports Churchill. 

'"' For details, see Col. Norman H. Vissering's let- 
ters and memoranda, 5 January-25 June 1943 (OCT 
HB Ocean Trans Ports Churchill). Vissering was the 
key figure in OCT planning for the Crimson Project. 

'"' OCT HB Monograph 19, pp. 156-63; Hist Mon- 
ograph, History of United States .\rmy Forces, Central 
Canada, pp. 1-3, 14-20, and Exhibit A. OCMH 
Files. 



14 



THE TRANSPORTATION CORPS 



sites for airfields and other military instal- 
lations were underway. U.S. and Green- 
land authorities on 9 April 1941 entered 
into a joint agreement granting the United 
States the right to locate and construct 
landing fields and other installations for 
the defense of Greenland and the North 
American continent. Because of the short 
working season, the lack of construction 
materials, and the dearth of facilities for 
the discharge of ships, the project was 
bound to be difficult. All food, supplies, 
and equipment for American use would 
have to be imported.'' 

By late April 1941 Narsarssuak, in the 
southernmost part of Greenland on the 
Tunugdliarfik Fjord, had been chosen as 
the site for first air base. Conveniently lo- 
cated about midway between Goose Bay, 
Labrador, and Reykjavik, Iceland, Nar- 
sarssuak could be reached from either 
point by a hop of about 775 miles. It natu- 
rally became the destination of the first 
military force shipped to Greenland from 
the United States.''' Selected to perform 
initial construction and defense, this force 
was built around a battalion of aviation 
engineers and an antiaircraft battery. The 
Corps of Engineers, which was responsible 
for the construction program, made the 
heaviest demands on shipping. 

After considerable delay in readying 
one of the two Army transports assigned 
to lift the expedition and its equipment, a 
force of 23 officers and 446 enlisted men, 
accompanied by 2,565 long tons of cargo, 
sailed under naval escort from New York 
on 19 June 1941. The convoy proceeded 
to Ivigtut, where it picked up several 
pilots, and on 6 July dropped anchor at 
Narsarssuak near the site of the projected 
air base. Cargo discharge, begun on the 
following day, was a slow and difficult 
task. Everything had to be lifted by ship's 



gear into lighters, of which there were too 
few; the tidal range often to twelve feet 
hampered the unloading of lighters; float- 
ing ice was a frecjuent hazard; and 
anchorage was a problem because of poor 
holding ground and limited space for 
maneuvering. All troops had to assist in 
cargo discharge, with a resultant adverse 
effect on the construction program. It was 
August before the two vessels completed 
discharge. Meanwhile, work on the air 
base had begun.''' 

At Narsarssuak initial construction by 
military personnel ended in late Septem- 
ber 1941, when the contractor's force ar- 
rived. About the same time another group 
of civilian construction workers began 
work on a second air base at Sondre 
Stromfjord. There also unloading cargo 
by lighter proved a long and difficult 
process. As soon as possible a temporary 
dock was built where lighters could be 
moored for discharge. Movement ashore 
was hampered becatise only five trucks 
had arrived in the first convoy. A third air 
installation was established at Ikateq, near 
Angmagssalik on the east coast. ^" 

Except for a few Navy facilities, mili- 
tary installations on Greenland were de- 
signed for the furtherance of the North 
Atlantic air ferry route. Because of the 
emphasis on air, an Air Corps officer. Col. 
Benjamin F. Giles, was designated as the 
first commanding officer of the Greenland 



'' OCT HB Monograph 1 1. pp. 2-11; Craven and 
Catc (eds.), AAF, I, 122; Watson, up. at., pp. 485-86; 
U.S. Department of State, Peace and War; United Stales 
Foreii^n Policy, 1931-1941 (Washington: Government 
Printuig Office, 1942), pp. 99-100. 

'^ Craven and Gate (eds.), AAF, I, 343. 

'■' OCT HB Monograph 1 1. pp. 1 1-26. 

'■'" Hist Monograph, U.S. Army Bases, Greenland, 
ASF GE. Mar 46 (hereafter cited as Greenland), Vol. 
I, pp. IV-4-5, V-12-13, OCMH Files; OCT HB 
Monograph 1 1, pp. 32-35; AG 580 Mvmi to Green- 
land, Sec. 4; G-4/32869, Sec. 1. 



THE ATLANTIC AND CARIBBEAN BASES 



15 



Base Command, which was established in 
the fall of 1941.-' 

Cargo shipments to Greenland were 
modest in 1941, but with America's entry 
into the war there was a fairly heavy 
movement of materials from the United 
States, totaling 194,700 measurement tons 
during 1942. The main categories were 
construction materials, equipment, and 
supplies for the Corps of Engineers and its 
contractors, gasoline and lubricants for the 
Air Forces, and subsistence and other 
maintenance supplies for the garrisons.-' ' 

Considerable difficulty was experienced 
during 1941 and 1942 in maintaining a 
balanced flow of supplies to Greenland. 
Since no regular American steamship 
service to Greenland existed in the sum- 
mer of 1941, the Corps of Engineers char- 
tered several small freighters to meet its 
shipping needs. The North Atlantic Divi- 
sion of the Corps of Engineers, which was 
directly responsible for construction in 
Greenland, established its own base at 
Claremont Terminal, Jersey City, New 
Jersey, where supplies and equipment 
were assembled, stored, and segregated 
according to priority of shipment.-' The 
arrangement proved unsatisfactory, for 
the port commander at Boston found that 
ships for Greenland arrived from New 
York so heavily loaded with Engineer 
items that little or no space remained to 
lift other cargo accumulated at his 
installation. 

The Greenland Base Command re- 
ported that its supply situation was un- 
satisfactory because insufficient shipping 
space had been allotted to supplies needed 
for maintenance and operation, as distin- 
guished from construction. After confer- 
ences in June and July 1942, involving 
representatives of the Greenland Base 
Command, the Chief of Engineers, and 



theChief of Transportation, it was decided 
to assign all shipping available for the sup- 
ply of the Greenland bases to the Boston 
Port of Embarkation and to make that 
port responsible for allocating shipping 
space in accordance with priorities set by 
the Greenland Base Command. Also the 
Corps of Engineers agreed to transfer its 
activity from the Claremont Terminal to 
Boston. By mid-December 1942 the sup- 
ply difficulties had been overcome.-* 

While a solution was being worked out 
for the shipping and supply situation, the 
Greenland Base Command was grappling 
with the local transportation problem. 
During the first year service personnel and 
means for cargo handling were extremely 
limited; enforced reliance upon lighterage 
and the handicaps imposed by the high 
tides slowed cargo operations; and, be- 
cause of the limited navigation season, 
freighters tended to bunch in Greenland 
waters awaiting discharge and convoy 
arrangements. 

Efforts by the Army to deal with this 
situation were devoted first to the im- 
provement of port facilities. At Narsar- 
ssuak, which became the chief U.S. Army 
port of the command, the need of a dock 
was first met by building a temporary 
structure about 150 feet long. Later, a 
small sheltered cove was selected as the 
site of a more permanent dock. Construc- 
tion, begun in February 1942, featured 
wooden cribs filled with rocks to form a 
448-foot marginal wharf. When this dock 
was finished as many as three small ships 
could be discharged simultaneously. 
Warehouses, oil and water pipelines, har- 



-' Memo, Actg ACofS for CofS USA, 3 Jun 4 1 , sub: 
CO Greenland Base Comd, WPD 4173-86. 

-'- ASF MPR, Sec. 3, 31 Jan 43, p. 86. 

-' Greenland, Vol. I, pp. IV-5-6, IV-25-26. 

-^ For the basic correspondence, June-December 
1942, see OCT 000-400 Greenland. 



16 



THE TRANSPORTATION CORPS 



bor craft, and crash boats also were 
provided. 

Improvements at other ports were more 
modest. At Ivigtut, aside from the local 
facilities for loading cryolite, the U.S. 
Navy had a rock-filled crib dock used 
principally by Coast Guard vessels and 
tankers, and the Army had two small crib 
docks suitable only for barges. At Sondre 
Stromfjord the Army had a 106-foot oil 
dock, as well as a 140-foot cargo dock. 
Both were temporary structures built to 
accommodate barges, as was also the small 
crib dock at Ikateq.-' ' 

As port construction moved forward, 
steps were taken to relieve the shortage of 
port personnel, which had necessitated the 
employment of inexperienced troop labor 
and civilian construction workers. In an 
unusual but costly effort to cope with this 
situation, the Chief of Transportation re- 
cruited thirty-two experienced longshore- 
men in Baltimore and Philadelphia. This 
group worked in Greenland from mid- 
October to late December 1942, and in 
that short period reduced appreciably the 
amount of undischarged cargo.-" More 
permanent relief followed the arrival in 
1943 of the 194th Port Company, organ- 
ized and trained especially for work at the 
Greenland bases. The men of the 194th 
were distributed in detachments among 
the various bases. At Narsarssuak, where 
the load was greatest, they had to be sup- 
plemented with other troops. 

By the fall of 1943 transportation diffi- 
culties in Greenland were no longer acute. 
With the completion of major construc- 
tion, the volume of inbound cargo 
declined sharply. The new main dock at 
Narsarssuak, equipped with crawler 
cranes of 20-ton capacity, proved satisfac- 
tory, and transportation personnel sta- 
tioned there were reported to be capable 



and efficient. Although Greenland re- 
mained important as a link in the air 
route to the United Kingdom, by the 
summer of 1944 the transportation tasks 
had become largely routine. '' 

In June 1945, the port organizations at 
Sondre Stromfjord, Ivigtut, and Angmag- 
ssalik were closing out, and all transporta- 
tion activity was being concentrated at 
Narsarssuak. Personnel were redeployed, 
except for those left at each base to crate 
and load the material to be shipped to 
Narsarssuak. There, excess equipment was 
either sold to the Danish Government or 
returned to the United States.-'^ 

Iceland 

Iceland, like Greenland, attracted the 
attention of the United States many 
months before Pearl Harbor. The British 
occupation of the island in May 1940 had 
been rather reluctantly accepted by the 
Icelandic Government. Believing that Ice- 
land could be protected without this physi- 
cal occupation, the latter made explora- 
tory proposals to the United States con- 
cerning Iceland's inclusion within the 
orbit of the Monroe Doctrine. The United 
States at first took no official action on the 
overtures, but eventually changed its atti- 

'-' On transportation difficulties and port construc- 
tion in Greenland, see Greenland, Vol. I, pp. V-12-15, 
V-44-45, V-62, V-69-70, V-76, VI-7; and Memo, 
Capt O. P. Gokay, CE, for Hq SOS, 4 Jun 42, sub: 
Unloading Time for Vessels BW-1, OCT 370.5 
Greenland, Mvmt Bluie Wesp. 

-"OCT HE Monographs 1 1, pp. 49-52, and 19. 
p. 18. Significantly, despite excellent pay none of the 
men cared to remain in Greenland. Interv, H. II. 
Dunham with Capt William J. Long, 31 Mav 44. 
OCT HB Greenland. 

■' OCT HB Monograph 1 1, pp. 60-67; RjM. Col 
Vissering, Inspection Trip, Aug-Sep 43, pp. 7-12. 
OCT PIB North America, Crimson Project: TCPI 
Bull, 22 Aug 44, Item 10. 

-^ Rpt 832, Dir Intel Div BPE, 26 Jun 45, sub: Ob- 
servations at Greenland, OCT HB North America 



THE ATLANTIC AND CARIBBEAN BASES 



17 



tude. By the spring of 1941 the worsening 
war situation made the British Govern- 
ment anxious to release its occupation 
troops for use elsewhere. This could be 
done if the United States immediately 
took over responsibility for the defense of 
the island, a commitment the United 
States had recently agreed to in the event 
it entered the war. In June, with British 
encouragement, the Icelandic Govern- 
ment issued an eleventh-hour invitation to 
the United States. The first American gar- 
rison, a provisional Marine brigade, 
reached Reykjavik early in July 1941.-" 

The defense of the Americas was 
strengthened and the antisubmarine cam- 
paign aided by developing Iceland as an 
important base along the North Atlantic 
air and sea lanes to the United Kingdom. 
As in the case of Greenland, Iceland was 
unable to provide construction materials 
or to support the occupation forces. Sup- 
plies and equipment therefore had to be 
imported, a task involving the assignment 
of scarce shipping to another extremely 
hazardous route. 

Reykjavik, the capital and principal 
port of Iceland, lay on the southwest coast. 
Protected by two breakwaters, its small 
inner harbor — roughly sixteen feet at low 
tide — could accommodate only vessels of 
moderate draft. Of the several quays, the 
best was a 525-foot marginal wharf known 
as the Main Quay. The second largest 
port, Akureyri, on the northern coast, had 
only a few small docks. On the east coast 
were the tiny fishing ports of Biidhareyri 
and Seydisfjordur. The absence of any 
road traversing the island was a serious 
handicap to transportation, making coast- 
wise traffic mandatory. Fortunately, the 
British had chartered a number of 
''drifters," which were Icelandic fishing 
vessels ranging from 75 to 150 feet long.'^" 



Even before the first U.S. contingent ar- 
rived in Iceland, it became evident that 
inadequate port facilities and meager 
housing would make it necessary to effect 
American occupation by stages. In order 
to determine discharge possibilities as well 
as to prepare the way for an Army garri- 
son, the War Department, late in June 
1941, ordered Maj. (later Col.) Richard S. 
Whitcomb and Lt. Col. Clarence N. Iry to 
Iceland, the former to look into the trans- 
portation aspects and the latter the engi- 
neering problems.' Traveling by air, 
Whitcomb and Iry arrived at Reykjavik 
on 4 July. After consultation with British 
and Icelandic officials, Whitcomb con- 
cluded that the basic transportation re- 
quirements of the forces to be sent to 
Iceland would be one port battalion and 
one truck battalion, a small passenger and 
freight vessel, three tugs, an oil barge, a 
water boat, a cabin cruiser, and a floating 
derrick of 75-ton capacity.'- These re- 
quirements were met only in part and 
very slow4y. 

Approximately 4,100 strong, the ma- 
rines, commanded by Brig. Gen. John 
Marston, reached Iceland on 7 July 1941 
aboard four troop transports, accom- 
panied by two cargo ships, a tanker, a tug, 
and naval escort vessels. Having arrived 
in advance of the Marine contingent, 
Whitcomb was able to make helpful pre- 
liminary arrangements with the British 
and the Icelanders. The two freighters 
were unloaded at the quays, with their 
own gear. Discharge of the transports. 



- ' Sec the account of the Iceland occupation in 
Conn and Fairchild, The Western Hemisphere, 
Vol. II. 

'■" OCT HB Monograph 14, pp. 2, 11-15. 

'■'Ibid., pp. 14-21; WPD 4493 and 4493-3; MS, 
Col R. S. Whitcomb, One War, pp. 1-2 OCT HB. 

- Hist Red. TC IBC, Jul 41 -Oct 43, pp. 6-8, OCT 
HB Iceland. 



li 



THE TRANSPORTATION CORPS 



which drew too much water for the inner 
harbor, was begun from anchorage in the 
outer roadstead on 8 July and completed 
three days later. Aided by long hours of 
daylight and surprisingly good weather, 
the marines worked continuously, unload- 
ing supplies and equipment into tank 
lighters, landing boats, and nondescript 
local craft for delivery to the docks or to a 
nearb)' beach, where British trucks waited 
for the last move to camps and dumps. 
Although the harbor was crowded and the 
port facilities poor, the energetic niarines 
were soon ashore and settled in their new 
island quarters. '' 

The Americans added to the growing 
wartime burden on Reykjavik. Iceland 
depended heavily upon imports, and its 
needs, together with those of the British 
and American forces, had to be met 
almost entirely by ocean traffic through 
that port. The convoy system frequently 
crowded several ships into the harbor at 
one time, and prompt cargo discharge was 
essential to prevent undue delay in vessel 
turnaround. Under these circumstances 
co-ordination of harbor activities and a 
program for expanding the port's facilities 
proved necessary. 

Preliminary negotiations, undertaken 
early in July between Whitcomb and the 
local harbormaster, culminated in a 
formal agreement on 19 August 1941 be- 
tween U.S. representatives at Reykjavik 
and the port authority there. In return for 
a first priority on the use of the Main 
Quay and contingent priorities covering 
two other quays, the Americans agreed to 
effect various repairs and improvements 
in the inner harbor, including the con- 
struction of a new East Quay to join the 
Main Quay and the Coal Quay so as to 
add approximately 1,000 feet of marginal 
wharf for American ships. The agreement 



also provided for building a new transit 
shed. The United States was to defray all 
costs, but the port authority was to carry 
out the work. ■' 

While the projected harbor improve- 
ments were still under discussion, the first 
U.S. Army contingent reached Iceland. 
Consisting of 1,226 officers and enlisted 
men — mainly Air Forces personnel — it ar- 
rived on 6 August 1941 aboard three 
ships. Of these, the Army transport 
American Legion encountered the greatest 
diflficulty. Because her draft would not 
permit berthing in the inner harbor, the 
vessel had to be discharged at anchor into 
tank lighters and motor launches. More- 
over, Company B of the 392d Port Bat- 
talion, which arrived on the vessel, was 
untrained and inexperienced. This unit 
and other Army troops assigned to the dis- 
charge operation functioned so inexpertly 
that they had to be replaced by marines.'^ ' 
The second ship, the Mizar, was unloaded 
without incident, but the third, the 
Almaack, lacked proper cargo gear and 
was loaded in such a way as to make dis- 
charge difficult. Because of these handi- 
caps, the fast turnaround U.S. Navy de- 
sired for this convoy was not attained. ''* 

Amid atrocious weather, a second U.S. 
Army contingent, 5,058 personnel, reached 
Iceland on 16 September 1941 in a 
heavily escorted convoy of ten vessels. 
Among the passengers were nine civilians 
experienced in marine operations and a 
small amount of port equipment, but no 

■■ See the account by the historian of the U.S. Ma- 
rine Corps, John L. Zimmerman, The First Marine 
Brigade (Provisional ), Iceland, 1941-1942 (Washington: 
Historical Division, U.S. Marine Corps, 1946). 

■■' Hist Red, TC IBC,Jul 41-Oct 43, pp. 9-1 1, 74, 
and App. Vn, OCT HB Iceland. 

■■■ Ibid., pp. 16-18. 

•'■ Rpt, Capt C. E. Battle. USN, Disembarkation of 
Troops and Cargo, Reykjavik, Iceland, ()-12 Aug 41. 
(Xrr HB Iceland — Misc. 



THE ATLANTIC AND CARIBBEAN BASES 



19 



port troops. Although Whitcomb had ar- 
ranged for a small freighter and a number 
of drifters to effect the discharge, the naval 
officer in command, desiring a quick turn- 
around, decided instead to use open tank 
lighters and landing boats to remove the 
packaged cargo. Exposed to rain and 
spray during ship-to-shore delivery, the 
cardboard containers soon fell apart, 
leaving the contents a ready prey to pil- 
ferers. Aside from indicating need for 
better understanding between the Army 
and Navy, this incident pointed to a seri- 
ous deficiency in Army packaging meth- 
ods — a deficiency that was not corrected 
until long after Pearl Harbor. 

With the second Army contingent came 
Maj. Gen. Charles H. Bonesteel, who as- 
sumed command of all American forces 
on the island, including the marines. 
Under General Bonesteel, Major Whit- 
comb became Assistant Superintendent, 
Army Transport Service (ATS). To carry 
out his task Whitcomb had only one port 
company, a handful of experienced civil- 
ians, and a few pieces of floating equip- 
ment. At the same time, port activity in 
general was placed under the quarter- 
master of the newly created Iceland Base 
Command. Because of the shortage of 
port troops, Bonesteel assigned the task of 
unloading vessels to the 10th Infantry 
Regiment, the port company to provide 
technical and supervisory assistance and 
to operate all cranes, tractors, and tow- 
motors.*' 

Although no better solution was at 
hand, neither the Assistant Superintend- 
ent, ATS, nor the 10th Infantry Regiment 
were happy about this arrangement. The 
infantrymen had no desire to be long- 
shoremen, and Whitcomb would have 
preferred additional service troops. At first 
there were only four cranes (two of 6-ton 



and two of 4-ton capacity) and eight 
tractors for dock work. Motor transport 
was usually in short supply, and the 
narrow streets of Reykjavik and poor 
roads leading to depots and camps added 
to the operational difficulties. As 1941 
drew to an end, daylight hours were lim- 
ited and winter storms often halted cargo 
operations. Under these conditions, more 
and more ships awaiting discharge ac- 
cumulated at Reykjavik.^* 

The unsatisfactory port and shipping 
situation persisted well into 1942. The 
Army, which in January took over from 
the Navy complete responsibility for the 
supply of U.S. forces in Iceland, was irked 
by the growing backlog of its supplies 
awaiting shipment at New York. Since the 
Army Transport Service lacked vessels for 
assignment to this run and was unable to 
obtain additional ships from the Maritime 
Commission, the Navy was requested to 
provide shipping to lift the backlog. The 
Navy, however, maintained that the as- 
signment of more vessels to the Iceland 
service could not be justified unless ships' 
turnaround time was improved.^'' 

Neither service was pleased with ar- 
rangements for cargo discharge at Reykja- 
vik. The combination of winter weather, 
insufficient port personnel, and inade- 
quate shore facilities were obvious causes 
of the difficulty. Early in March 1942 the 
War Department directed the Iceland 
Base Command to take corrective action 
regarding the delay of ships at Reykjavik, 
and in the following month it dispatched 



" Hist Red, TC IBC, Jul 4 1 -Oct 43, pp. 2 1 -26, and 
Exhibit S, OCT HB Iceland. 

'^ Whitcomb, One War, pp. IV-5-6, OCT HB. 

'■' Memo, Col Clarence H. Kells for ACofS G-4, 12 
Feb 42, sub: Mvmt of Cargo to Indigo; Memo, Rear 
Adm Sherwoode A. Taffinder to Lt Gen Brchon B. 
Somervell, 10 Mar 42. Both in OCT HB Iceland — 
Misc. Cf OCT HB Monograph 14, pp. 60-70. 



20 



THE TRANSPORTATION CORPS 



two civilian specialists, Paul C. Grening 
and Clifford S. White, to Iceland. 

By this time improvement was under 
way, for the arrival in late January of ad- 
ditional port personnel and the adoption 
in February of the practice of discharging 
ships on a twenty-four hour basis were 
already reducing turnaround time. The 
visit of the two specialists proved bene- 
ficial, however, in pointing up the need for 
additional troops, trucks, floating equip- 
ment, and berthing space, and through 
their efforts the port later received several 
small harbor boats and a number of heavy 
cranes.'" 

The port difficulties at Reykjavik were 
part of the growing pains of the Iceland 
Base Command. Troop and cargo traffic 
was heavy in 1942, for as Army forces ar- 
rived, the Marines and the British gar- 
rison moved out. The same ships that de- 
livered American replacements picked up 
the British and their equipment and car- 
ried them to the United Kingdom. The 
expanding U.S. garrison called for sizable 
shipments of Army cargo, which in April 
1942 amounted to 55,991 measurement 
tons." 

While these changes were taking place, 
the port organization was growing. Early 
in March 1942 it was augmented by 
twenty-nine enlisted men, from a Quar- 
termaster shoe repair company, who with 
training eventually formed a nucleus for a 
port headquarters. In August two more 
port companies arrived. One was assigned 
to Reykjavik and the other distributed 
among the outports at Akureyri, Seydis- 
fjordur, and Budhareyri. Of these out- 
ports, taken over from the British in Au- 
gust and September 1942, the most im- 
portant was Akureyri. All three unloaded 
transatlantic cargo vessels and trans- 



shipped freight and personnel by coast- 
wise steamship and drifter to the numer- 
ous Army outposts around the island. 

Completion of the new transit shed at 
Reykjavik in late 1942 gave the port ade- 
quate quarters to store and sort cargo and 
to house and repair port equipment. Im- 
proved harbor facilities and the acquisi- 
tion of additional port equipment, includ- 
ing two much-needed 45-ton cranes and a 
small fleet of harbor craft, at last put the 
port organization in position to meet all 
anticipated demands.' ' 

Meanwhile, in line with the precedent 
already set in the zone of interior by the 
creation of a separate Transportation 
Corps, Army transportation activities 
were removed from the base quarter- 
master's jurisdiction on 1 September 1942. 
This eliminated from the transportation 
picture the base quartermaster, who had 
not always seen eye to eye with the Army 
Transport Service superintendent on the 
management of the port. There was still 
no port headquarters, although a table of 
organization had been proposed. The pro- 
posal had to pass through the Iceland Base 
Command, European theater headquar- 
ters, and the War Department, and at one 
point it appeared to have been lost in the 
shuffle. The required approval was finally 
given, and in May 1943 the 18th Port was 
activated in Iceland, with an authorized 
strength of 38 officers, 2 warrant officers, 
and 455 enlisted men drawn from port 
personnel already there. Whitcomb, who 
was soon to be made a full colonel, was 



■"' Memo, Grening and White for CofT, 26 Apr 42, 
sub: Port Facilities, Ini:)Igo, OCT HB Iceland —Misc. 
Cf. Whitcomb, One War, pp. IV-10-1 1, OCT HB. 

" Zimmerman, op. cil., p. 16; OC'T HB Monograph 
14, p. 104. 

'- Hist Red, TC IBC, Jul 41 -Oct 43, pp. .■59-52, 
66-68, 79, 84-87, 103-04, OCT HB Iceland. 



THE ATLANTIC AND CARIBBEAN BASES 



21 



named Port Commander as well as Super- 
intendent, Army Transport Service. ' ' 

Ironically, when the port organization 
finally took shape, the Iceland Base Com- 
mand was already in the process of reduc- 
tion. After June 1943 monthly shipments 
of U.S. Army cargo from the United 
States to Iceland were modest since the 
base had reached its maximum develop- 
ment. At the same time, outloadings of 
men and surplus materiel to the United 
Kingdom assumed sizable proportions, 
and by the close of the year more U.S. 
Army cargo was being removed from Ice- 
land than was being received. 

By the late fall of 1943 the reduction of 
the command had progressed to a point 
where the port organization could be 
drastically scaled down. On 30 October 
Whitcomb ended his tour of duty in Ice- 
land. The four transports that carried 
Colonel Whitcomb and most of the officers 
of the 18th Port to the United Kingdom 
took a total of 515 officers and 8,869 en- 
listed men from the Iceland Base Com- 
mand. On 29 December 1943 the 18th 
Port was disbanded, and the personnel 
that stayed on formed the Port Section of 
the Iceland Base Command. Diminishing 
activity and continuing reductions in 
transportation personnel in Iceland char- 
acterized the remainder of the wartime 
period there. ' ' 

The Caribbean Bases 

While developments were taking place 
in northeastern Canada and the North 
Atlantic, the strengthening of old bases 
and the construction of new ones in the 
Caribbean area were being pressed. Within 
the Caribbean Defense Command, estab- 
lished during 1941, were located not only 



the Panama Canal, Puerto Rico, and the 
West Indian bases acquired in the bases- 
for-destroyers deal of September 1940, but 
also such valuable resources as the bauxite 
mines in Surinam and the oil refineries of 
Curagao and Aruba.^' Some of the Carib- 
bean bases also provided landing fields for 
the air ferry route between the United 
States and West Africa."' 

Puerto Rieo 

Puerto Rico, the oldest American Carib- 
bean outpost, was strengthened beginning 
in 1939. Transportation problems were few 
during the first year. By mid- 1 940 all water 
transportation activities in the Puerto 
Rican Department were under the juris- 
diction of the department quartermaster. ' ' 
At San Juan, the capital and for many 
years a regular port of call of the Army 
Transport Service, port operations were 
supervised by two officers and two enlisted 
men. All cargo was loaded and discharged 
on a contract basis at a small, leased pier. 



'- GO 28, Hq IBC. 1 Sep 42; Whitcomb, One War. 
IV-3-6, OCT HB; AG Ltr 320.2 (4-13-43), OB-I- 
SPOM-U-M. 1 7 Apr 43. sub: Constitution and Acti- 
vation of 18th Port Hq: GO 15. Hq IBC, 8 May 43. 

" OCT HB Monograph 14, p. 104; Hist Red, TC 
IBC, Nov 43, p. 1 and Exhibit C, Dec 43 and Jan 44- 
Mar 45, OCT HB Iceland: Whitcomb, One War. pp. 
IV-5, V-6, V-8-9, V-12, OCT HB; GO 106, Hq IBC. 
29 Dec 43. Almost all the personnel of the 18th Port 
eventualK found nevs assignments in the United 
Kingdom with tlie 1 1th Port, under Whitcomb's 
leadership. 

'•' The Caribbean Defense Command was di\ided 
into a Puerto Rican Sector, a Panama Sector, and a 
Trinidad Sector. 

^« Craven and Gate (eds.), AAF, I. 123-24, 281-82. 
299-303. 

" The Puerto Rican Department, as constituted on 
1 July 1939, included Puerto Rico, adjacent islands 
and bays, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. E.xcept where 
otherwise stated, for the period through 1942 this dis- 
cussion is based upon Hist Red, TC P.R. Dept. 1 Jul 
40-3 1 Dec 42, OCT HB P.R. Dept. 



22 



THE TRANSPORTATION CORPS 



Rail service was provided by a coastal line 
from San Juan, operated by the American 
Railroad Company, and a number of 
others run by local sugar companies. De- 
spite mountainous terrain, the island pos- 
sessed a good highway network, extending 
in checkerboard fashion from east to west 
and north to south. 

The situation began to change in the 
latter half of 1940, when additional troops 
were sent to Puerto Rico and the new 
American garrisons in St. Thomas, St. 
Croix, and Antigua placed under the 
Puerto Rican Department for administra- 
tion and supply. The increased traffic soon 
overburdened the port's personnel and 
facilities. By the end of 1941 it had been 
necessary to add fifty-eight civilians, in- 
cluding a marine superintendent, to the 
small military staff. Work on a modern 
terminal for Army use was begun in 
August 1941 on a site adjacent to the 
Puerto Rican General Depot at Fort Bu- 
chanan, and was completed in September 
1942. It included a 600-foot concrete pier, 
a 500-foot transit shed, fuel and water 
lines, and rail connections with the Puerto 
Rican General Depot. 

The volume of military cargo delivered 
at San Juan grew from 88,087 measure- 
ment tons in 1941 to 141,135 measurement 
tons in 1942. Shipments from San Juan to 
U.S. contingents on neighboring islands, 
extending as far eastward as Antigua and 
ultimately including both Jamaica and 
Cuba, also increased. '^ Beginning with one 
harbor boat, the Puerto Rican Depart- 
ment gradually assembled a sizable local 
fleet of interisland transports and harbor 
craft.'-' 

The completion in 1942 of major con- 
struction at Borinquen Field and the open- 
ing of the new Army terminal eased the 
transportation task. The burden was fur- 



ther lightened when arrangements were 
made to co-ordinate Army, Navy, and Air 
Forces movements to and from the area. 
Briefly, the U.S. Navy employed its refrig- 
erated vessels to deliver perishables for all 
U.S. forces. The Army moved all other 
supplies to San Juan and was responsible 
for interisland distribution from that port. 
Both services used their ships to return 
military personnel and cargo to the zone 
of interior. Wherever possible, the Army 
Air Forces (AAF) and the Navy carried 
passengers on northbound planes to 
Miami, Florida.^" The hazard of water 
communications with Puerto Rico was 
lessened when the heavy concentration of 
U-boats in the Atlantic caused a reduction 
of their activity in the Caribbean in the 
latter part of the year.'' 

In March 1943 Transportation Corps 
observers found operations proceeding 
smoothly. Transportation activities were 
being directed by a small staff under Col. 
William H. Sadler, who had been ap- 
pointed department transportation officer 
in late August 1942. Colonel Sadler's 
duties included general supervision of all 
water and rail transport, liaison with the 
Navy and AAF regarding transportation 
matters, and technical supervision of all 
transportation officers in the Puerto Rican 
Sector. Sadler also headed the port of San 



'^ On the minor Transportation Corps operations 
in Cuba, Jamaica, and Antigua, see Hist Red, TC 
Antilles Dept, 1941-45, Pts. Ill, IV, and VI; Hist 
Red, TC Jamaica Base Comd, 20 Nov 42; and Hist 
Red, TC Antigua Base Comd, Oct 41 -Dec 42. All in 
OCT HB. 

'' Rpt, Lt Col Benjamin C. Allin and Capt Robert 
G. Stone, Puerto Rico, 18-19 Mar 43, p. 3, Annex 
13A, 13D, and 13G, OCT HB P.R. Dept. 

■'" Rpt, Allin and Stone, Puerto Rico, and Ltr to Col 
Clinton F. Robinson, 19 Mar 43, Dir Contl Div SOS, 
OCT HB P.R. Dept. 

"See Craven and Cate (eds.), AAF, I, 514-18, 
521-23, 530, 535-36; and U.S. Fleet Anti-Submarine 
Bull,Jun43, p. 5. 



THE ATLANTIC AND CARIBBEAN BASES 



23 



Juan, which had an authorized strength of 
five officers, two warrant officers, and nine 
enHsted men. ' ' 

Port activity remained significant 
throughout 1943, and in that year Army 
cargo landed at Sanjuan totaled 140,339 
measurement tons. ' ' Following the acqui- 
sition of additional cargo-handling equip- 
ment and harbor craft at the new Army 
terminal, all ordinary demands could be 
met. Cargo discharge was accomplished 
by contract stevedores and extensive use 
was made of competent civilians at the 
various transportation offices and the port 
of San Juan. The interisland transports 
and harbor craft were manned by civilian 
crews. There were occasional labor short- 
ages and work stoppages, but none de- 
layed the working of Army vessels. 

On 1 June 1943 the Puerto Rican 
Department was redesignated the Antilles 
Department and the latter 's jurisdiction 
was extended to cover the areas formerly 
encompassed by the Puerto Rican and 
Trinidad Sectors. Under this arrangement, 
the transportation officer at Sanjuan be- 
came the Antilles Department transporta- 
tion officer, and his authority was extended 
to include supervision of U.S. Army trans- 
portation activities in the expanded area 
under the jurisdiction of the new depart- 
ment.^^ However, the previously inde- 
pendent transportation organization of 
the Trinidad Sector and Base Command 
was allowed considerable freedom in its 
operation because of its distance from de- 
partmental headquarters. Aside from 
Cuba and Jamaica, which were supplied 
directly from the zone of the interior after 
transshipment via Sanjuan proved time 
consuming and wasteful, the outposts in 
the Antilles Department continued to be 
supplied from Puerto Rico and Trinidad. '"' 
Rotation or return of military personnel 



to the United States was initiated in the 
Antilles Department in mid-September 
1943. The progressive reduction of the 
command's strength during the last half of 
the year was reflected in increased passen- 
ger traffic at Sanjuan. Temporarily, these 
movements proved burdensome, but in 
the long run the reduced strength of the 
command resulted in a lessening transpor- 
tation activity. 

The frequent irregularity and almost 
prohibitive cost of water transport to the 
more remote points in the Antilles Depart- 
ment led to considerable dependence on 
air traffic. Puerto Rico, Trinidad, British 
Guiana, and Cuba had the advantage of 
being located on routes served by the Air 
Transport Command. Regularly sched- 
uled flights were also made by the 330th 
Transport Squadron to practically every 
base in the area, and special flights were 
arranged when emergencies arose. In mid- 
February 1944 the transportation officer 
of the Antilles Department gained control 
of all air space assigned to the command, 
and received authority to arrange for any 
air space that could be secured from other 
sources such as the Air Transport Com- 
mand and the Naval Air Transport 
Service."' 



'- Rpt, Allin and Stone, Puerto Rico, pp. 2, 4, and 
Annexes 1 and 4, OCT HB P.R. Dept. Interservice 
relationships at Sanjuan were described as excellent. 

■'■'' Total compiled from quarterly figures in Histori- 
cal Record, Transportation Corps, Antilles Depart- 
ment, for 1943 (2 binders) (OCT HB). This illustrated 
and well-documented report is the source here used 
for transportation activity in 1943. 

'■' Hist Red. TC Antilles Dept. 1941-45, p. 2, OCT 
HB Antilles Dept. 

^^ Hist Red, TC Antilles Dept, 1 Jan-30 Jun 43, pp. 
12-13, and 1941-45, p. 2. 

■=*« Hist Red, TC Antilles Dept, 1 Jul-31 Dec 43, pp. 
4, 6, and Incl 9a and 12; Rad, ASF Trans to CG An- 
tilles, 9 Dec 43, CM-OUT 3640; Hist Red, TC An- 
ulles Dept, 1941-45, Pts. I and H. 



24 



THE TRANSPORTATION CORPS 



Puerto Rico remained an important 
base throughout the war. It presented 
none of the unusual transportation prob- 
lems that characterized the operations at 
the North Atlantic bases. 

Truudad 

Situated 574 nautical miles southeast of 
San Juan, Trinidad had valuable oil and 
asphalt resources and was an important 
transshipment point for bauxite. Because 
of its strategic location, the island was also 
a focal point on the established air and 
shipping routes between the United States, 
South America, and West Africa. With the 
arrival at Port-of-Spain on 5 May 1941 of 
a U.S. Army force of 60 officers, 995 en- 
listed men, and 10 civilians, Trinidad be- 
came the site of garrison and airfield 
construction and the supply base for Amer- 
ican contingents on outlying islands. ' 

Although the excellent harbor at Port- 
of-Spain had to be dredged periodically, it 
afforded well sheltered, safe anchorage at 
all seasons. Vessels drawing up to thirty 
feet could be berthed at King's Wharf, a 
facility equipped with lighterage and pos- 
sessing direct rail connections. Adjacent to 
King's Wharf was Docksite, a largely un- 
developed, muddy area of about twenty- 
eight acres extending along the Gulf of 
Paria for approximately 3,000 feet. Set 
aside for American use, Docksite was later 
enlarged to encompass 183 acres, and in 
time a new Army wharf, a large general 
depot, warehouses, repair shops, and other 
facilities were constructed there. In addi- 
tion to Docksite, the principal installations 
erected on Trinidad were the Army base 
at Fort Read and the adjoining Waller 
Field. A run-down railway connected Fort 
Read and Port-of-Spain, and ultimately 
both these points were joined by the 
Churchill-Roosevelt Highway.'^** 



From the outset the Americans in Trini- 
dad had to furnish considerable local as 
well as interisland transport. Hundreds of 
laborers had to be moved daily by boat, 
truck, and train to and from construction 
projects. As the supply and transshipment 
point for all American installations within 
a radius of approximately 500 nautical 
miles, Trinidad depended almost exclu- 
sively upon water transport to deliver per- 
sonnel, supplies, and equipment to outly- 
ing islands, including St. Lucia, the Dutch 
islands of Curac^ao and Aruba, and British 
and Dutch Guiana. '■' In order to accom- 
plish this mission, the Army gradually 
acquired, operated, and maintained a 
local fleet of interisland transports, tugs, 
barges, and other craft.'"' 

Port congestion began to develop as 
early as June 1941, and by October of the 
following year it had become so acute that 
it aroused deep concern in Washington. 
Vessels in large numbers crowded into the 
harbor at Port-of-Spain since it was an 
important convoy control point for the 
U.S. Navy as well as the headquarters of 
an expanding U.S. Army base and supply 
depot, the transshipment center for baux- 



■' Hist Red, TC Trinidad Base Comd, 7 Sep 42, 
OCT HB Trinidad. 

■^ WD Rpt. A Survey of Trinidad, 29 Jan 41, OCT 
HB Trinidad Base Comd; Caribbean Defense Comd, 
Construction And Real Estate Activities in the Carib- 
bean Defense Command, H (1 Nov 46), 175-82, 195- 
201; MS, Hist Sec Trinidad Base Sector, History of 
Trinidad Sector and Base Command, I, 72-73, 
27 7-79, OCMH Files. 

'-' On U.S. Army transportation activities in St. 
Lucia, Curasao, Aruba, and the Guianas — all small 
scale — see the following: Construction and Real Estate 
Activities in the Caribbean Defense Command, II, 
279-84, OCMH Files; Hist Red, TC Antilles Dept, 
1941-45, Pt. X, XI, OCT HB Antilles Dept; Sum- 
mary of Hist Events and Statistics, NYPE, 1941, p. 16, 
OCTHBNVPE. 

'" Hist Red, TC Trinidad Sector and Base Com- 
mand, 7 Sep and 20 Oct 42, OCT HB Trinidad Base 
Comd. 



THE ATLANTIC AND CARIBBEAN BASES 



25 



ite from the Guianas, and the only port of 
entry for the busy island of Trinidad. In- 
sufficient storage space, inadequate port 
facilities, inefficient dock labor, and lim- 
ited rail and highway transport contrib- 
uted to an unhealthy situation: ships were 
immobilized awaiting discharge and port 
clearance lagged. Drastic action was 
obviously in order. 

On 1 November 1942 a Transportation 
Corps officer, Col. Werner W. Moore, was 
appointed port controller and clothed with 
sweeping powers to relieve port conges- 
tion. He immediately requisitioned addi- 
tional equipment from the zone of interior, 
requesting in particular the expedited de- 
livery of two 60-ton diesel locomotives, a 
tanker, six 500-ton cargo barges, and 
5,000 cargo pallets. Native dock workers 
were engaged in maximum numbers for 
cargo discharge and without regard to the 
expense of overtime pay. With the co- 
operation of all concerned, including an 
advisory port committee, and the tempo- 
rary assignment of several experienced 
wharf supervisors imported from New 
York and Montreal, the congestion was 
gradually reduced. By the end of 1942 
Army cargo ships were being berthed at 
Port-of-Spain without delay and the turn- 
around time had shown decided improve- 
ment.''^ 

Despite this improvement in the Army 
operation, the general situation at Port-of- 
Spain remained unsatisfactory. Having 
seen at least fifty ships in the harbor while 
flying over it. General Somervell directed 
that a qualified officer be detailed at once 
to investigate. Lt. Col. Benjamin C. Allin 
was selected by the Chief of Transporta- 
tion and he, with Capt. Paul C. Grening, 
visited Trinidad from 26 to 30 January 
1943.''- 

Allin and Grening found that of a total 



of 72 vessels in the harbor on 19 January 
1943, more than a third were transients 
using the port only to obtain coal, water, 
and stores. This situation stemmed from 
the fact that the shallow waterways in the 
Guianas made it necessary for the large 
ocean-going vessels that carried bauxite to 
the United States to take on only partial 
loads at the mines. The vessels then pro- 
ceeded to the Chaguaramas terminals near 
Port-of-Spain, where cargo space was 
topped off from a stockpile of bauxite 
assembled there by about thirty smaller 
shuttle craft, mostly coal burners. At this 
time, the latter spent an average of 11.6 
days in the harbor, a delay caused chiefly 
by the lack of coal-bunkering facilities. 
But relief was already in sight since the 
bauxite quota from the Guianas was to be 
cut by about 50 percent by obtaining ore 
from other areas, an additional coal barge 
equipped with a crane was to be procured 
for bunkering, and wherever possible the 
War Shipping Administration was to sub- 
stitute oil-burning vessels for the coal- 
burning shuttle craft. 

Although the problem of harbor con- 
gestion was nearing a solution, the prob- 
lem of overburdened port and rail facilities 
remained. The Corps of Engineers had 
begun building a new Army wharf with 
berthing space for two ships, but by late 
January 1943, only the first berth and one 
transit shed were completed. At AUin's 
suggestion, temporary rail connections 
were installed and immediate use was 



«' Memo, Col Moore to CofT SOS WD, 3 Nov 42, 
sub: Shipping Congestion in Trinidad; Memo, Chief 
Port and Field Agencies Div for Col Robert H. Wylie, 
8 Nov 42, sub: Congestion at Port-of-Spain. Both in 
OCT 567.2 (Trinidad). See also Rpt, Lt Col Ralph H. 
Sartor, TC, Shipping Situation, Port-of-Spain. OCT 
HB Trinidad Base Comd. 

''- See report by Allin and Grening, Trinidad, 1 
February 1943 (OCT HB Trinidad Base Comd), upon 
which the following paragraphs are based. 



26 



THE TRANSPORTATION CORPS 



made of this berth and shed. Despite the 
need of additional port personnel, neither 
AUin nor Grening favored the assignment 
of a port battalion. The colonial governor, 
they explained, wanted no Negro troop 
labor for fear of inciting local unrest, and 
the commander of the U.S. Army base did 
not favor using a white battalion along- 
side the native dock workers. In addition 
the investigators aided in expediting the 
delivery of the additional port and rail 
transportation equipment that had been 
requested. 

In the spring of 1943, with the arrival of 
new cargo-handling gear, Trinidad had 
enough port equipment. Rail equipment, 
including three locomotives and 124 rail- 
way cars, arrived and was used on the 
local government-owned railway. The lat- 
ter acquisitions improved rail service, 
although the railroad's operation con- 
tinued to be hampered by antiquated 
equipment and the loss of many of its best 
workers to better paying military projects. 
The command also was assigned the 
USAT Monterey, a 404-foot troop and cargo 
transport, to be used in the supply of bases 
in Brazil and on Ascension Island. Com- 
pletion of the new 1,202-foot Army wharf 
made possible the complete release of 
King's wharf in the summer of 1943.''' 

A number of transportation problems 
remained to be solved at Trinidad, as was 
evident to the two Transportation Corps 
officers who had taken over Colonel 
Moore's duties as port controller and chief 
of the Base Transportation Division upon 
his transfer to Washington in January 
1943. The Base Transportation Division 
was subordinate to the General Depot — a 
holdover from the days when The Quar- 
termaster General was responsible for both 
depot and transportation activities — and 
requests for transportation were delayed 



in passing along the chain of command. 
The district engineer, who was independ- 
ent of the Trinidad Sector and Base Com- 
mand, operated harbor craft, engaged 
ocean transport, and actually employed 
more equipment and personnel on the 
local railway than did the Transportation 
Corps.''^ 

The Base Transportation Division was 
divorced from the General Depot on 1 
July 1943, and later in the month Colonel 
Allin took over as chief of transportation 
for the Trinidad Sector and Base Com- 
mand of the Antilles Department. Allin 
recovered the transportation functions 
that had been performed by the district 
engineer, but by the close of the year the 
entire command was already in the proc- 
ess of reduction.'' ' Beginning in 1944 the 
U.S. Army tended to concentrate its sup- 
ply and transportation activities at the 
permanent Puerto Rican base in San 
Juan. Incident to this shift the transporta- 
tion organization and function in Trinidad 
fell off appreciably in size and scope.'''' 

Redeployment brought a final flurry of 
activity. Waller Field was selected to serv- 
ice and maintain a fleet of about 260 C-47 
airplanes engaged in Green Project, an 
operation involving the airlift of troops 
from the European and Mediterranean 
theaters to the zone of interior. The first 



'' ■ Rpt, Col Sartor, Shipping Situation, Port-of- 
Spain, 29 Apr 43, with atchd Ltr to Brig Gen Robert 
H. Wylie, 3 May 43; Hist Red, TC Trinidad, 5 Apr 
43. Both in OCT HB Trinidad Base Comd. See also 
Hist Red, TC Antilles Dept, 1941 45, Pt. IX, OCT 
HB Antilles Dept. 

'• ' Sartor rpt and ltr cited n. 63. 

'•■' For the basic letters, September 1943-January 
1944, see OCT HB Overseas Opns Gp, Corres— 
Trinidad. 

'■'' History of Trinidad Sector and Base Command, 
H, 13, IH, OCMH Files; Rpt, Maj Mark C. Collarino 
to Dirof Opns OCT, 13 Jul 44, Sec. II, OCT HB An- 
tilles Dept; Hist Red, TC, Antilles Dept, 1941-45, Pt. 
IX. 



THE ATLANTIC AND CARIBBEAN BASES 



27 



service personnel for this activity reached 
Trinidad on 29 May 1945. By July, Green 
Project planes were carrying 30,000 men 
per month on the last leg of the homeward 
trek, making 31 trips daily from Natal to 
Miami, using Waller Field as a service 
and maintenance depot. After the sur- 
render of Japan this program was cur- 
tailed almost as suddenly as it had begun, 
ending officially on 10 September 1945.''' 

Panama Canal 

The Canal Zone was a permanent part 
of the prewar American defense system. 
Among the first U.S. outposts to be rein- 
forced after Hitler advanced on Poland, 
the Canal Zone was the headquarters of 
the Panama Canal Department and later 
became the headquarters of the Carib- 
bean Defense Command. Within this area 
the primary function of the Army was to 
protect the Panama Canal so that it could 
be used at all times by the U.S. Navy. Air 
defense was contemplated from airfields 
in the Canal Zone, in Puerto Rico, and in 
the Caribbean bases acquired from the 
British. For the United States, in war as in 
peace, the Panama Canal formed a vital 
link between the Atlantic and the 
Pacific.''^ 

In peacetime, the governor of the Pan- 
ama Canal was responsible for the oper- 
ation and maintenance of the canal itself, 
as well as the administration, sanitation, 
and government of the Canal Zone. The 
governor was also the president of the 
Panama Railroad, which ran along the 
eastern side of the waterway to connect 
the terminal ports of Cristobal and Bal- 
boa. The Panama Railroad Company 
also operated the Panama Line, whose 
three ships had been specifically designed 
for its needs. The governor, by custom 
a retired Engineer officer, reported di- 



rectly to the Secretary of War. As an 
emergency measure, on 5 September 

1939, the Canal Zone was placed under 
the jurisdiction of the Commanding Gen- 
eral, Panama Canal Department.''" The 
latter's authority over operation of the 
canal and governmental functions, how- 
ever, continued to be exercised through 
the governor. 

The port facilities were excellent at 
both Cristobal and Balboa, but beginning 
in 1940 a flood of defense projects greatly 
increased the pressure upon these ports 
and the local railway. The Third Lock 
Project was undertaken to provide an ad- 
ditional set of locks and new approach 
channels for the Panama Canal, and there 
was extensive construction for the air, 
ground, and naval forces.'" The Trans- 
Isthmian (Boyd-Roosevelt) Highway and 
the Rio Hato link of the Inter-American 
(Pan-American) Highway further in- 
creased the traffic to and within the area. 
Although the Public Roads Administra- 
tion was responsible for these two projects, 
the Army was affected because of the 
drain upon manpower and materiel, and 
the added transportation load.' ^ 

•^' History of Trinidad Sector and Base Command, 
Vol. II, Ch. IX. OCMH Files. 

''■^ Watson, op. cit., pp. 458-63; Craven and Cate 
(eds.). AAF, I, 160-65; Conn and Fairchild, The 
Western Hemisphere, Vol. II, Chs. X, XL See also 
Norman J. Padelford, The Panama Canal in Peace and 
War (New York: The Macmillan Company, 1942). 

«■' Padelford, op. at., pp. 1 70, 188-89. 

'" E.xcavation for the Third Lock began in July 

1940. and the project continued until curtailed in 
May 1942. See Annual Rpt of Governor of Panama 
Canal, FY 44, p. 47. 

'" The Trans-Isthmian Highway became available 
for liinited military traffic in late April 1942. Con- 
struction of the sixty-one-mile link of the Inter- Ameri- 
can Highway from La Chorrera to the air base at Rio 
Hato was completed in July 1942. See Study. Hist Br 
U.S. Army Caribbean, The Boyd-Roosevelt Highway 
and Inter-American Highway, Jan 48, OCMH Files. 
Cf Hist Red, TC Panama Canal Dept. Jul 40-Scp 42, 
pp. 5-8, 12-15, OCT HB Panama. 



28 



THE TRANSPORTATION CORPS 



As a result of these abnormal condi- 
tions, congestion at Cristobal was frequent 
throughout 1941, but it affected the com- 
mercial lines rather than the Army Trans- 
port Service. Army cargo had priority dis- 
charge, and no undue delay was reported 
despite the scarcity and inefficiency of 
dock workers. A recommendation that 
port troops be brought in and utilized was 
disapproved by the Caribbean Defense 
Command on the ground that the docks 
were not under exclusive military jurisdic- 
tion. Apart from a housing problem, it 
was considered undesirable to use U.S. 
soldiers alongside native dock labor. At 
the close of 1941, although the situation 
was not serious, Col. (later Brig. Gen.) 
Harlan L. Mumma, department quarter- 
master, still complained of the very ineffi- 
cient labor and the obsolete equipment of 
the Panama Railroad Company, which 
controlled all port facilities and did all 
stevedoring for the Army in the Canal 
Zone.' ' 

Movements within the Canal Zone, 
along the line of the canal, were performed 
chiefly by the Panama Railroad.' ' Air 
transport was limited to emergency ship- 
ments. Motor transport, although re- 
stricted by the poor roads and rough ter- 
rain, had a significant role. In addition to 
organic vehicles, the Panama Canal De- 
partment depended upon a motorized 
Quartermaster regiment, which by March 
1942 operated an Atlantic and a Pacific 
motor pool, together with a dispatch pool 
of staff cars. The tractor-trailer combina- 
tions used by this regiment proved valu- 
able at the piers and for large shipments 
to the Quartermaster subdepot at Rio 
Hato. The Trans-Isthmian Highway, sup- 
plementing the railroad and the canal, 
permitted rapid movement of troops and 
supplies by motor transport between 
Cristobal and Balboa.' ' 



When the United States entered World 
War II, Army transportation in the Canal 
Zone, as elsewhere overseas, was a respon- 
sibility of the Quartermaster Corps. The 
creation of the new and separate Trans- 
portation Corps on 31 July 1942 brought 
no immediate change.' ' To discharge his 
transportation responsibilities, on 5 Feb- 
ruary 1942 the department quartermaster 
set up an Army Transport Division, which 
dealt with ocean-going shipping and rail 
transportation, and an Area Transporta- 
tion Division, which operated and main- 
tained the smaller ships and harbor craft 
employed locally to forward troops and 
supplies to outlying stations. The Army 
Transport Division relied extensively upon 
the facilities and personnel of the Panama 
Canal establishment, with its modern 
piers and warehouses at Cristobal and 
Balboa and the Panama Railroad. The 
Area Transportation Division had no such 
good fortune, for it had to procure, man, 
operate, and maintain its own local fleet.''' 

The primary mission of the Area Trans- 
portation Division was to serve U.S. mili- 

' -' For the basic correspondence, January-December 
1941. on the cargo congestion in the Canal Zone, see 
OCT HB Panama Misc Papers. 

' ' The Panama Railroad was a single-track line 
running 47.62 miles from Colon on the Atlantic side 
via Gatun, Gamboa, and Pedro Miguel to Balboa and 
Panama on the Pacific side. See Hist Red, TC Pan- 
ama Canal Dept. Jul 40-Sep 42, The Panama Rail- 
road, pp. 1-12, OCT HB Panama. 

■• Hist Red, TC Panama Canal Dept, Jul 40-Sep 
42, Motor Trans, pp. 1-11, OCT HB Panama. 

' ' On 7 December 1941 the department quarter- 
master was Col. John T. Harris, who was also Super- 
intendent, Army Transport Service. He was succeeded 
by Colonel Mumma, who remained in this niche 
throughout the war and was given the additional title 
of Chief of Transportation, Panama Canal Depart- 
ment, on 22 September 1944. See GO 102, Panama 
Canal Dept, OCT HB Gross Panama Canal. Cf. Hist 
Red, TC Panama Canal, Jul 40-Sep 42, Army Trans- 
port Service, p. 1, OCT HB Panama. 

■" See Hi.st Red, TC Panama Canal Dept, Jul 40- 
.Sejj 42. Area Trans, pp. 1-57, OCT HB Panama, 
from which this and subse(|uent paragraphs are 
drawn. 



THE ATLANTIC AND CARIBBEAN BASES 



29 



tary installations that could be reached 
most conveniently by water. Although this 
organization functioned at both ends of 
the isthmus, serving numerous isolated 
airfields, air warning stations, and other 
installations, its activity centered on the 
Pacific side where American bases ex- 
tended from Guatemala as far south as the 
Galapagos Islands and Peru. The division 
therefore set up its headquarters at Bal- 
boa, where it secured pier, marine repair, 
and storage facilities. 

From a small nucleus of boats already 
in the Canal Zone, the /Vrea Transporta- 
tion Division ultimately developed an 
adequate fleet of shallow-draft freighters, 
tugs, barges, and other small craft. A 
number of larger vessels, including tank- 
ers, were also acquired to supply the more 
distant outlying bases. Aside from fifty 
purse seiners, procured by the Chief of 
Transportation on the U.S. west coast for 
the Aircraft Warning Service and deliv- 
ered to Panama in the spring of 1942, 
most of the newly acquired vessels were 
forwarded to the Canal Zone from the 
New Orleans Port of Embarkation. By 1 
June 1942 the Panama Canal Department 
had 197 harbor boats in operation."' 

A greater problem — never completely 
solved — was the procurement of compe- 
tent crews. Many of the civilians who de- 
livered the craft from the United States 
were unwilling to remain, since their 
families could not be brought to Panama 
and the pay scale was not attractive. 
Others stayed a while but left as soon as 
possible. The local activation in July 1942 
of the 160th Quartermaster Boat Com- 
pany, stationed at Corozal on the Pacific 
side, afforded some relief. Despite a gen- 
eral lack of seafaring experience, these 
men developed into competent marine 
officers after a period of training under 
licensed personnel. 



There were other difficulties. Where 
separate living quarters could be arranged 
aboard the vessel, a native crew could be 
employed under white licensed personnel, 
but if not, racial friction was a possibility. 
It was usually desirable that the vessel 
complement be either entirely military or 
entirely civilian, since the great disparity 
in pay made the average soldier dis- 
gruntled if he worked alongside civilians. 
The manning problem was eased in 1943, 
however, as the construction program be- 
gan to taper off^ and new men became 
available who were willing to remain in 
Panama rather than return to the United 
States and risk possible induction.'*" 

Transportation was heaviest at the 
Canal Zone in 1942 when the construction 
work was greatest. A total of 738,839 
measurement tons of Army cargo was re- 
ceived at Cristobal and Balboa during the 
year, the bulk of it arriving on transports, 
with minor tonnages carried by commer- 
cial vessels.'" Intensive submarine opera- 
tions in the Gulf of Mexico during the 
spring and early summer caused the can- 
cellation of numerous sailings from New 
Orleans, and a congestion of cargo devel- 
oped at that port. As a result, beginning 
late in June, all shipments for Panama 
except perishables were moved through 
the port of Wilmington, California. While 
this arrangement, which was in effect until 
the end of the year, avoided the subma- 
rine danger, it was expensive in terms of 



"" Memo, Maj Gen Charles P. Gross for Somervell, 
6 Apr 42, sub: Purse seiners, and 1st Ind, WD SOS to 
QM Panama Canal Dept, 25 Apr 42, OCT 565.3-900 
Panama; Rpt, Water Div OCT, Harbor Boats, 1 
Jun 42, OCT HB Water Div. 

■*- Hist Red, TC Panama Canal Dept, Jul 40-Sep 
42 and Oct 42-Jun 43, Area Trans, OCT HB Pan- 
ama. 

'•' For port statistics, see Hist Red, TC Panama 
Canal Dept, Jul 40-Sep 42, ATS, p. 48. and 1 Oct 42- 
30 Jun 43, ATS Section, OCT HB Panama. 



30 



THE TRANSPORTATION CORPS 



transportation because of the longer rail 
and water hauls involved/" 

Monthly deliveries of Army cargo to 
Cristobal and Balboa reached a peak of 
85,286 measurement tons in September 
1942. The downward trend of shipments 
that followed was halted temporarily in 
the first quarter of 1943, when some addi- 
tional construction work was undertaken. 
To meet the unexpectedly heavy demands 
for transshipment of cargo to the outlying 
bases, the Area Transportation Division 
had to charter and borrow additional ves- 
sels. But this was only a flurry, for con- 
struction was nearing an end, and the 
command was soon in the process of 
reduction."** 

Like Trinidad, the Canal Zone experi- 
enced a brief resurgence of activity occa- 
sioned by the redeployment program. 
During the summer months of 1945 large 
shipments of troops and cargo en route 
from Europe to the Pacific passed through 
in an impressive movement known locally 
as Operation Transit. The project was 
placed under the direction of the Deputy 
Commander, Panama Canal Department, 
and the department chief of transporta- 
tion was assigned responsibility for the 
technical phase, which included servicing, 
repair, and transit of the ships. 

The first redeployed troopship to pass 
through the Panama Canal was the USS 
Uruguay, which docked at Cristobal on 20 
June 1945 with 4,400 men aboard, direct 



from Leghorn, Italy. The next day the 
ship was on her way to the Pacific. The 
ensuing weeks saw a steady succession of 
ships in transit. Every possible facility, in- 
cluding religious, USO, Red Cross, and 
post exchange services, was made avail- 
able to make the short stay in the Canal 
Zone pleasant and profitable. The last re- 
deployment vessel, the USS Hawaiian 
Shipper, arrived on 14 August 1945, just in 
time for its passengers to get news of the 
Japanese surrender and to find their desti- 
nation changed to New York. Altogether, 
36 ships passed through the Canal Zone 
carrying approximately 125,000 troops 
being redeployed from the European and 
Mediterranean theaters. '^- 

At the war's end, the maintenance of 
the small force assigned to guard the Pan- 
ama Canal constituted only a minor trans- 
portation task. Together with the other 
Caribbean bases and those in the North 
Atlantic, Panama had long since become 
part of a secondary front overshadowed 
by the European and Pacific theaters. 



^" Memo, Dep Chief Mvmts OCT to CGs NOPE 
and SFPE, 28 Jun 42, sub: Estab of Los Angeles as 
Temp Sub- Port; Ltr, CofT SOS to Dep Administrator 
WSA, 3 Dec 42. Both in OCT 565.3-900 Panama. 

**' Hist Red, TC Panama Canal Dept, Oct 42-Jun 
43, passim, OCT HB Panama. 

^- See Operation Transit in the Panama Canal De- 
partment (1945), copy in OCT HB Panama. Cf 
Study, Ping Div OCT, Panama Canal Estimate of 
Traffic and Capacity (c. Jun 45), OCT HB Exec 
Panama Canal. 



CHAPTER II 



Alaska and Western Canada 



The outbreak of war in Europe caused 
the United States to look to its Atlantic 
defenses but created little apprehension 
regarding the security of Alaska. General 
Staff planners believed that the undevel- 
oped state of the Territory, poor means of 
communications, rugged terrain, and ad- 
verse climate made unlikely the operation 
of major land forces in Alaska and that air 
or land invasion of the United States via 
Alaska was not to be expected. Although 
the possibility of surprise aggression ex- 
isted, they anticipated that any such 
enemy action would be minor and in all 
probability confined to the Aleutian 
Islands and the shores of the Gulf of 
Alaska. The key to the defense of Alaska, 
therefore, appeared to be the control of 
Kodiak, Sitka, and the Unalaska-Dutch 
Harbor area, where the development of 
naval bases was contemplated, and of 
Anchorage and Fairbanks, which could be 
developed as air bases and maintain a 
small, mobile air-ground team. Protected 
by a superior Pacific fleet, the bases could 
be defended by small Army garrisons and 
by aircraft capable of carrying effective 
action as far south as Ketchikan and as far 
west as Kiska.' 

Strategy and the Development 
of Transportation 

In line with this concept there was, 
beginning in mid- 1940, a limited strength- 



ening of Alaska's defenses. A gradual 
build-up of Army forces at Anchorage and 
Fairbanks was undertaken, and small 
garrisons were established at Kodiak, 
Sitka, and Dutch Harbor, at covering air- 
fields at Annette Island and Yakutat, and 
at Nome on the west coast of Alaska. Col. 
(later Lt. Gen.) Simon B. Buckner, Jr., 
was appointed commander of U.S. Army 
troops on 9 July 1940, and later headed 
the Alaska Defense Command (ADC), ac- 
tivated on 1 March 1941, with head- 
quarters at Fort Richardson, Anchorage. 
The ADC came under the Western De- 
fense Command, which like its prede- 
cessor, the Ninth Corps Area, embraced 
the U.S. west coast and Alaska. Expan- 
sion was accelerated somewhat as a result 
of the German invasion of the Soviet 
Union in June 1941 and renewed Japa- 
nese aggression in Southeast Asia, and by 
the end of the year Army strength in 
Alaska had reached 23,798. ' 

Meanwhile, construction was begun on 
an air line of communications between the 
United States and Alaska. Upon the rec- 
ommendation of the Permanent Joint 
Board on Defense, established by the 



' 1st Ind. WPD to CG Fourth Army, 10 Oct 39, 
WPD 3512-39 through 3512-49 Alaska Devel and 
Settlement; Rpt, 15 Aug 40, sub: Defense of Naval 
Bases at Sitka and Kodiak, JB 3 1 3, Ser 650, ADC 6 1 1 
Rds II. KCRC AGO. 

- MS. WDC, History of the Western Defense Com- 
mand, 17 Mar 41-30'Sep45. Vol. I. Ch. I. pp. 2-6, 
OCMH Files. 



32 



THE TRANSPORTATION CORPS 



United States and Canada in August 
1940, work was begun on a chain of air- 
fields extending across western Canada to 
Fairbanks. This construction program 
was nearing completion at the end of 
1941.= 

The defensive concept, predicated on 
U.S. naval supremacy, was rudely shaken 
by the Pearl Harbor attack. It was then 
feared that Japanese submarine action 
might endanger the sea lanes to Alaska 
and that enemy possession of bases in the 
Aleutians or on the shores of the Gulf of 
Alaska might cut the sea lines of supply 
from the U.S. west coast. At the same 
time, completion and expansion of the 
chain of airfields in western Canada and 
Alaska became an urgent necessity. To 
facilitate the operation and supply of 
these airfields, and to provide an emer- 
gency land route to Alaska in the event of 
enemy interference on the sea lanes, the 
War Department undertook the construc- 
tion of the Alaska Highway. Also, surveys 
were made to determine the feasibility of 
building a railroad via the Rocky Moun- 
tain Trench from Prince George, British 
Columbia, to Fairbanks; the Canol 
Project, designed to tap western Canadian 
oil resources to supply aviation and motor 
fuel to western Canada and Alaska, was 
initiated; and studies were made regard- 
ing the development of river and winter 
road routes to supply stations that would 
be cut off in the event the Bering Sea or 
the Gulf of Alaska or both were denied to 
U.S. shipping.^ 

While the use of alternate routes and 
resources was under consideration, steps 
were being taken to maintain and expand 
the supply of Alaska by water. As a safety 
measure, vessels were routed via the 
Inside Passage, formed by the islands of 
southeast Alaska, to Cape Spencer, where 



convoys were formed for onward move- 
ment across the open sea to stations in cen- 
tral and southwest Alaska and beyond. To 
ease the pressure on Seattle, the port of 
embarkation for Alaska, a subport was 
opened at Prince Rupert, British Co- 
lumbia, and in an eff^ort to relieve the 
shortage of ocean-going vessels the Alaska 
Barge Line was established to carry 
cargoes from Seattle and Prince Rupert 
via the Inside Passage to Juneau, and 
later to Excursion Inlet, for transshipment 
westward on ocean-going vessels. 

As construction forces began work on 
the Alaska Highway and other western 
Canadian projects, the barge line also car- 
ried supplies to Skagway, Alaska, the 
ocean terminal connected by the White 
Pass and Yukon Railroad with the high- 
way at Whitehorse in the Yukon. In the 
fall of 1942 Skagway was activated as a 
subport of Seattle, and to expedite de- 
liveries to Whitehorse the Army leased 
the antiquated rail line. To command all 
U.S. Army activities in western Canada 
and the extension of those activities into 
Alaska, including the White Pass and 
Yukon Railroad and the Alaska Highway, 
the Northwest Service Command (NWSC) 
was established in September 1942. Col. 
(later Brig. Gen.) James A. O'Connor as- 
sumed command and set up his headquar- 
ters at Whitehorse. 



' On air transport and other AAF operations in 
Alaska and western Canada, see Craven and Cate, 
AAF, I, 124-26, 147-48, 166-70, 193, 303-09, 357- 
56, 361, 462-70, IV, 359-401. 

' ASF Contl Div Rpt 175, The Alaska Highway, 1 
Jun 45, pp. 4-14, OCMH Files; Memo, Somervell 
for CofE, 25 Mar 42, Hq NWSC and Off of Div Engr 
NW Div, AG Sec 617 U.S. -Canada- Alaska RR, Rail 
and Port Survey, KCRC AGO; Rpt, prepared by 
com representing ASF Contl Div, OCofE, OQMG, 
and CG NWSC, The Canol Project, OCMH Files; 
Memo, Col Dabncy O. Elliott, Dir Strategic Logistics 
Div SOS, for ACofS for Opns SOS, 2 Oct 42, OCT 
463.7-523.06 Alaska 41-42. 



ALASKA AND WESTERN CANADA 



33 



In Alaska, meanwhile, expansion of 
defensive garrisons proceeded as far as the 
limited shipping permitted. Existing bases 
were strengthened, new ones established, 
and new airfields constructed. In early 
1942, to cover Dutch Harbor, sites for air- 
fields were garrisoned at Umnak Island in 
the Aleutians and at Cold Bay in the 
Alaska Peninsula. Other stations acti- 
vated before June included Cordova, Val- 
dez, and Juneau in southeast Alaska, and 
Naknek off"Kvichak Bay.' 

Even as efforts to gird Alaska's defenses 
m'oved forward, the Japanese launched a 
two-pronged attack against Midway and 
Dutch Harbor. The repulse of the enemy 
at Midway (3-6 June) removed the threat 
to the U.S. west coast and the Hawaiian 
area and helped restore the balance of 
naval power in the Pacific. The Dutch 
Harbor attack (3-4 June) proved diver- 
sionary and ended with the withdrawal of 
Japanese forces and their occupation of 
Kiska and Attn Islands in the western 
Aleutians. These enemy bases lacked the 
strength to threaten seriously Alaska's 
security or to disrupt the sea lanes in the 
Bering Sea and the Gulf of Alaska. 

After the Dutch Harbor attack, the 
Nome garrison was strengthened and 
Army forces were stationed in the Bristol 
Bay and Kuskokwim Bay areas, in the 
Pribilof Islands, and at various points in 
the interior of Alaska. An advance along 
the Aleutian chain was begun in August 
1942 with the occupation of Adak Island, 
which was followed in January 1943 by 
unopposed landings on Amchitka Island. 
Both Adak and Amchitka were developed 
as important forward bases, from which 
the Japanese-held islands were subjected 
to increasingly heavy air attack. 

As a result of these military develop- 
ments, there came into existence a large 



number of scattered garrisons dependent 
on water transport and, with the excep- 
tion of installations served by the Alaska 
Railroad and the Richardson Highway, 
lacking connections with each other. By 
the fall of 1943 there were in Alaska 
twenty-eight ports, forty main posts or 
garrisons, and over seventy locations where 
troops were stationed." 

The expansion of defensive installations 
was accompanied by several notable im- 
provements in the field of transportation. 
Additional port facilities were constructed 
at Seward and Dutch Harbor. Adak, a 
barren island when occupied, was devel- 
oped into a port handling over 100,000 
measurement tons per month. The Alaska 
Railroad's civilian force was augmented 
by a railway operating battalion in the 
spring of 1943, and a rail extension was 
completed from Portage Bay to the newly 
developed port of Whittier, giving the rail- 
road a new and more convenient port of 
entry. 

Meanwhile, the possibility of utilizing 
Alaska as an overland supply route to 
Siberia and/or as a base for large-scale 
offensive operations had been explored. In 
the latter part of 1942 the idea of a rail- 
road from Canada to Alaska was revived, 
together with a rail extension and pipeline 
from Fairbanks to a port on the Seward 
Peninsula. Also, plans were made for the 
development of river and winter road 
routes from Whitehorse to Fairbanks and 
thence along the Yukon River to Alaska's 
west coast, and for a similar project along 
the Kuskokwim River. Planning for the 
Alaska Highway called for the delivery of 



'• G-4 Per Rpt, Hq ADC, Initial Rpt, 10 Dec 42, 
pp. 3-4. AG Opns Rpts Sp 3 19. 1 10 Dec 42 (2). 

" Lecture by Brig Gen Frank L. Whittaker. Dep 
Comclr ADC, at A-N Staff College, Washington, 
D.C.. OCT HB Alaska Misc Info. 



34 



THE TRANSPORTATION CORPS 



as much as 200,000 tons monthly to Fair- 
banks from the Dawson Creek and White- 
horse railheads. The Canol Project, origi- 
nally intended to produce crude oil at 
Norman Wells in the Northwest Territories 
and carry it to Whitehorse by pipeline for 
refining, was expanded to include a distri- 
bution pipeline system extending from 
Skagway to Whitehorse and from White- 
horse south to Watson Lake and north to 
Fairbanks and Tanana. The chain of air- 
fields was expanded, intermediate airfields 
were placed under construction, and in 
September 1 942 an air ferry system for the 
delivery of lend-lease aircraft to Siberia 
was established along the airway. ' 

Most of the plans for large-scale trans- 
portation operations were soon abandoned 
or considerably deflated. By early 1943 it 
was apparent that neither the plan for an 
overland supply route to Siberia nor that 
for major offensive action based on Alaska 
would soon materialize. At the same time, 
the continued availability of the sea lanes 
and the improving shipping situation not 
only made it possible to meet the needs of 
the forces in Alaska and western Canada 
more adequately, but also to provide for 
the expulsion of the Japanese from the 
Aleutians. The capture of Attu in May 
and the unopposed landings on Kiska in 
August completed this phase. Thereafter, 
steps were taken to reduce Alaska to a 
static, defensive garrison. 

These events made unnecessary the 
development of alternate overland routes. 
Although an Engineer survey had upheld 
the feasibility of constructing a trans- 
Canadian Alaska railway, the project had 
been unfavorably considered by the War 
Department in November 1942 because of 
the time and expense involved. Inland 
waterways were developed only to a lim- 
ited extent and winter roads were used 



only in emergencies. The Alaska Highway, 
opened as a pioneer road in November 
1942 and substantially completed as an 
all-weather highway in October 1943, was 
used to deliver only a token amount of 
materiel in Alaska beyond Fairbanks, al- 
though it proved valuable in supplying 
airfields and Army and civilian construc- 
tion forces along the route. ■ 

The end of the Aleutian Campaign 
brought a marked reduction in Alaska's 
transportation requirements. Construction 
was curtailed, many garrisons and air- 
fields were inactivated or placed in a care- 
taker status, excess supplies were evacu- 
ated or redistributed to remaining centers 
of activity, and surplus troops were re- 
turned to the United States for deploy- 
ment to more active theaters. On, the 
administrative side, the ADC on 1 Novem- 
ber 1943 was divorced from the WDO and 
established as the Alaskan Department, 
an independent command reporting (^rect 
to Washington. 

With the exception of Canol, which was 
pressed to completion as a measure to re- 
lieve the world-wide oil and tanker short- 
age, western Canadian projects moved 



' Rpt on Survey, Trans-Canadian Alaska Railway 
Location, 12 Oct 42, OCT 612-617 Alaska 41-42; 
Memo, Maj Gen LeRoy Lutes, ACofS for Opns SOS, 
7 Oct 42, sub: River Trans Yukon River, OCT 618- 
900 Alaska 41-42; Memo, Maj Gen Wilhelm D. 
Styer, CofS ASF, for CofT, 22 Mar 43, sub: NWSC 
Barge Lines on Lower Yukon and Kuskokwim Rivers 
in Alaska, OCT 560.1-563.4 Alaska 43; Rpt, Gen 
O'Connor to CG SOS, 12 Oct 42, sub: Review Rpt, 
Trans-Canadian Alaska Ry, OCT 612-617 Alaska 
41-42; Ltr, Somervell to CofE, 16 Nov 42, sub: Canol 
Project, NWT, Canada and Alaska, OCT 678 
Alaska 44; MS, Hist Sec Alaskan Dept, Official His- 
tory of the Alaskan Department (hereafter cited as 
Alaskan Dept Hist), Ch. XVL p. 360, OCMH Files. 

'^ Memo, Maj Gen Thomas M. Robins, Actg CofE, 
for CG SOS, 7 Dec 42, sub: Trans-Canadian Alaska 
Ry, Prince George, B. C, to Kobe, Alaska, ASF 39-2 
Alaska 382; ASF Contl Div Rpt 175 cited n. 4, pp. 
35-38. 



ALASKA AND WESTERN CANADA 



35 



from a construction to a maintenance 
phase in early 1944.-' As a part of a general 
reorganization calculated to facilitate the 
transition, a command-wide Transporta- 
tion Section was established headed by Lt. 
Col. Harley D. Harpold. Whereas opera- 
tions in NWSC had previously been char- 
acterized by a lack of centralized control 
and co-ordination of the available means 
of transportation, under the new set-up 
the Transportation Section exercised cen- 
tralized movement control and other traf- 
fic management functions. At the same 
time, operations were decentralized to five 
transportation districts, which operated 
under policies and procedures formulated 
by the Transportation Section. The re- 
sultant improved planning and co-ordina- 
tion of movements and more efficient use 
of transportation contributed to the orderly 
reduction of the command.'" 

When CanoTs production and refining 
facilities were abandoned in March 1945, 
the last major activity in western Canada 
came to a close. Activities that were con- 
tinued — maintenance of the Alaska High- 
way, signal communications, and distribu- 
tion pipelines; supply of the airfields; and 
operation of the port of Skagway and the 
White Pass and Yukon Railway — were 
rapidly reduced to minor proportions. In 
June 1945, when NWSC was discontinued 
and its duties were turned over to the 
Sixth Service Command, there were less 
than 1,600 military personnel in western 
Canada." 

On V-J Day, Alaska was a static defen- 
sive area with a military strength of ap- 
proximately 36,000. The supply of Alaska 
still depended on water transportation, 
supplemented by a small amount of cargo 
and a considerable number of passengers 
carried by air. The availability of the sea 
lanes and shipping made it uneconomical 



to supply Alaska in any other fashion, but 
the Alaska Highway and associated proj- 
ects added considerably to the area's 
potential for defense in the uncertain years 
ahead. 

Evolution of the Transportation 
Organization in Alaska 

The creation of a large number of 
isolated garrisons in Alaska resulted in the 
development of a decentralized command 
structure. Since extremely limited com- 
munications between stations made im- 
possible an orthodox supply system where- 
by depots were organized in depth with 
rail and road nets leading to the forward 
areas, post commanders were made re- 
sponsible for the supply as well as the 
defense of their installations. Exercising 
command and supply functions normally 
performed by higher headquarters, they 
requisitioned most categories of supply 
directly on the Seattle Port of Embarka- 
tion, maintained reserves of stocks, and 



^ In February 1944 NWSC headquarters and the 
office of the Northwest Engineer Division were con- 
solidated, and General O'Connor was replaced by 
Brig. Gen. Ludson D. Worsham. Worsham, in turn, 
was succeeded in May 1944 by Col. (later Brig. Gen.) 
Frederick S. Strong, Jr., who continued in command 
until NWSC's inactivation. On the early months of 
the shift to the maintenance phase, see Rpt, CG 
NWSC to CG ASF. 12 Mar 44, sub: Interim Rpt on 
Curtailment of Opns . . . in NWSC, ASF 65-6 Vol. 
I Policy File NWSC. 

'" For details on the reorganization of transporta- 
tion activities in NWSC, see Memo, Col Harpold for 
Chief Hist Br OCT, sub: Responsibilities of Trans Sec 
and Appointment of CofT, OCT HB NWSC. 

" Memo, Maj Gen Daniel Noce, Dir Plans and 
Opns ASF, for ACofS OPD, 23 May 45, sub: Discon- 
tinuance of NWSC, ASF Ping Div A46-839 Vol. X 
Gen NWSC; STM-30, Strength of the Army, 1 Dec 
45, p. 63. Residual transportation functions were as- 
signed by the Sixth Service Command to the Ed- 
monton Transportation District (formerly Edmonton 
Rail Regulating Station) in July 1945. See Harpold 
memo cited n. 10. 



36 



THE TRANSPORTATION CORPS 



assumed administrative and operational 
control over all service and ground troops. 
Each post tended to become a self-con- 
tained installation subject to a minor 
degree of co-ordination from ADC head- 
quarters. ^-' 

Before the Pearl Harbor attack, Army 
transportation operations were confined 
largely to the ports. In August 1941 there 
was a total of six Quartermaster officers 
serving as Assistant Superintendents, 
Army Transport Service, one each located 
at Seward, Sitka, Dutch Harbor, Chilkoot 
Barracks, Annette Island, and Yakutat. 
These officers handled ATS functions in 
addition to their other duties. Labor was 
provided by civilians, where available, or 
by troops detailed by the post com- 
manders.'" 

The first command-wide ATS organiza- 
tion emerged shortly after Pearl Harbor. 
With the expansion of defensive garrisons, 
the Army Engineers chartered floating 
equipment from canning firms and other 
commercial interests in order to move 
construction personnel and materials to 
new stations and to handle lighterage and 
other harbor activities. The Officer in 
Charge of Alaska Construction was made 
responsible for the operation of this equip- 
ment and accordingly was designated 
Superintendent, Army Transport Service. 

Effective 1 July 1942, the ATS was 
divorced from the Engineers and placed 
under the administrative jurisdiction of 
the ADC Quartermaster Section. An ATS 
superintendent was assigned, assuming 
responsibility for all floating equipment 
formerly under the Engineers, and ar- 
rangements were made to bring all harbor 
boats in ADC under his control. Toward 
the end of the year a Transportation Sec- 
tion was established on the special staff of 



ADC headquarters at Fort Richardson, 
and the ATS superintendent was made 
part of this section.'* 

The ATS superintendent was primarily 
a staff"officer responsible for co-ordinating 
vessel movements within the command, 
the control of ports remaining a function 
of post commanders. Consequently, there 
evolved during 1942 a large number of 
widely distributed, unconnected or loosely 
connected ATS units, known in ADC as 
"outports." Lacking authorized Tables of 
Organization, the typical ATS outport was 
staffed by a few military and civilian per- 
sonnel furnished from local sources. Port 
labor was sometimes provided by organ- 
ized port companies, but more often work 
was performed by details from tactical 
troops. ATS units, port companies, and 
other personnel were under the control of 
the post commanders. 

Improvisation and the use of garrison 
troops provided relatively efficient opera- 
tion of Alaskan ports, but by late 1942 the 
growing volume of shipping made it nec- 
essary to increase outport staffs, bring in 
qualified transportation personnel, and 
provide for a larger degree of co-ordina- 
tion in shipping and port activities. In 
December 1942 the War Department ap- 
proved an ADC request for an allotment 
of forty-four officers, including an ATS 
superintendent qualified in shipping and 
harbor operations, and assistant superin- 
tendents and other officers to supervise 



'- G-4 Per Rpt, Hq ADC, Initial Rpt, 10 Dec 42, 
pp. 1-2. 

' ■ Rpt, Maj R. W. Smith to TQMG, 28 Aug 41, 
sub: List of Commissioned Officers — Water Trans, 
OCT 121.3-230.7 Alaska 41-42. 

" Trans Sv Hist Red, Jul 42, Supt ATS, Ft. Rich- 
ardson, Alaska, 8 Aug 42, OCT HB Alaska Corres; 
Alaskan Dept Hist, Ch. VHI; G-4 Per Rpt, Fiq ADC, 
Initial Rpt, 10 Dec 42, p. 7. 



ALASKA AND WESTERN CANADA 



37 



cargo handling and harbor craft operation 
and maintenance at the outports.' ' 

About this time General Buckner placed 
a request with the War Department for a 
chief of transportation for ADC. In Janu- 
ary 1943 Colonel Noble, who had com- 
manded the r2th Port at Churchill, Mani- 
toba, was selected by the Chief of Trans- 
portation in Washington. Upon arrival at 
ADC headquarters. Noble was disap- 
pointed to find that he was not to assume 
over-all direction of transportation opera- 
tions. Brig. Gen. Frank L. Whittaker, 
newly appointed Deputy Commander, 
ADC, responsible inter alia for logistical 
operations, believed that water transpor- 
tation was so important that it would 
require Noble's full attention. Conse- 
quently, Noble served solely as ATS super- 
intendent. Maj. (later Col.) Reuben W. 
Smith, heading the ADC Transportation 
Section, was retained to deal primarily 
with rail operations. In practice, both men 
acted as staff officers to General Whittaker, 
who exercised general supervision over 
transportation operations. 

As Superintendent, ATS, Noble gave 
the outports a larger degree of guidance 
and instituted measures to control the flow 
of traffic. ATS outport units at twenty- 
three ports were expanded and revitalized; 
War Department approval of manning 
tables was obtained for ATS outport head- 
quarters, harbor craft detachments, ma- 
rine way units, and maintenance platoons; 
marine repair facilities were placed under 
construction at Adak, Seward, and Fort 
Glenn and a floating repair shop was 
secured from Seattle; maintenance pla- 
toons were assigned to the principal ports; 
and training schools for harbor boat per- 
sonnel were activated. By August 1943 the 
ATS was beginning to take its place as a 



highly important operating unit of ADC" 
Despite his success in effecting consider- 
able improvement in the ATS organiza- 
tion. Colonel Noble was dissatisfied with 
his status in the command. He found that 
his authority was not only restricted by 
General Whittaker's supervision, but also 
by the supervision exercised by post com- 
manders, several General Staff officers, the 
ADC Transportation officer, officials of 
the WDC, and the Seattle Port of Embar- 
kation. His basic difficulty was that of 
developing an integrated ATS organiza- 
tion when control of ports was decentral- 
ized to officers appointed by and responsi- 
ble to post commanders. Noble could give 
technical guidance to Assistant Superin- 
tendents, ATS, but could exert influence 
over port commanders only through Gen- 
eral Whittaker. Although Whittaker was 
willing to correct situations where port 
commanders did not permit assistant 
superintendents to function properly, he 
insisted that the ATS superintendent 
should not infringe on the control of ports 
by post commanders.^' 

Noble advocated the establishment of a 
centralized transportation organization 



'" Ltr, Col E. P. Post, CofS ADC, to CO WDC and 
Fourth Army, 1 Oct 42, sub: Pers for ATS, Alaska, 
OCT 240-330.4 Alaska 41-42; 2d Ind, WD AGO to 
CG WDC, 2 Dec 42, OPD 320.2 ADC Sec IV Cases 
142 to 206; Ltr, Lt Col Curtis A. Noble, Supt ATS 
ADC, to Gen Wylie, ACofT, 25 Feb 43, OCT HB 
Alaskan Dept Orgn of ATS. 

"' Ltrs, Noble to Wylie, 25 Feb 43, 6 Aug 43, and 
2d Ind, AGO to CG WDC, 7 Jun 43, OCT HB 
Alaskan Dept Orgn of ATS; Memo, Wylie for Gross, 
10 Aug 43, sub: Trans in Alaska, OCT HB Wylie 
Alaska. 

■' Noble ltrs cited n. 16; Ltrs, Noble to Wylie, 29 
Mar, 7 Apr. and 4 May 43, OCT 333.1 Alaska; 
Check Slip, Hq ADC, Note IV, Whittaker to Supt 
ATS, 5 Aug 43, sub: Inspection of Ports at Camp 
Earle and Shemya by Supt ATS ADC, OCT HB 
Alaskan Dept Orgn of ATS. 



38 



THE TRANSPORTATION CORPS 



exercising direct control over shipping, 
port, rail, and other transportation activi- 
ties. Instead, ADC in August 1943 issued 
directives that made some progress in cen- 
tralizing ATS activities, but that in other 
respects proved disappointing to him. ATS 
was made a separate command and was 
designated the responsible agency for the 
management, operation, and maintenance 
of all vessels in Alaskan waters and for 
their routing and berthing. The assistant 
superintendents and the units under their 
control, including outport headquarters, 
harbor craft detachments, and marine 
way and maintenance units, were placed 
under the ATS superintendent for techni- 
cal direction, but remained under the 
administrative and operational control of 
post commanders. At the same time, the 
ATS superintendent was removed from 
the ADC special staff, and the ADC Trans- 
portation Section was announced as the 
special staff agency dealing with transpor- 
tation matters. Control of troop and cargo 
movements was given to G-3 and G-4 
respectively, and post commanders were 
authorized to use, without reference to 
ADC headquarters, any transport facility 
serving their posts.''' 

The creation of an independent ATS 
was a step forward, but Noble maintained 
that he had been denied essential func- 
tions, which were retained by various 
members of the General Staff and the 
ADC transportation officer. Disappointed 
because he had never been permitted to 
function as ADC chief of transportation 
and believing that the ATS had grown 
into an efficient organization only in the 
face of "continual interference" and "op- 
position to policies which would allow the 
Superintendent, ATS to establish and exer- 
cise normal prerogatives," Noble was 



convinced that his usefulness in Alaska 
had ended.'-' 

Colonel Noble was transferred from 
Alaska and was succeeded in September 
1943 by Col. Joe Nickell, a Field Artillery 
officer who had been port commander at 
Adak, Attu, and Shemya Islands. At that 
time Transportation Corps strength in 
Alaska attained a wartime peak. On 
1 October there were 1,917 troops and 
several hundred civilians serving with ATS 
and outport headquarters, harbor craft 
detachments, marine way units, and main- 
tenance platoons. In addition, four port 
battalion headquarters and seventeen port 
companies, aggregating 4,000 men, were 
stationed at the major year-round ports, 
and 1,168 railway troops were working on 
the Alaska Railroad. Regardless of defi- 
ciencies, much progress had been made in 
expanding transportation operations in 
the command.-" 

Under Colonel Nickell the conflict 
between centralized and decentralized 
control of port operations was resolved. 
The functions of port commander and 
Assistant Superintendent, ATS, were com- 
bined and assigned to experienced Trans- 
portation Corps officers wherever possible. 
This was eventually accomplished at all 
the major western Aleutian ports except 
Amchitka, where an Infantry officer de- 
tailed to the Transportation Corps had 
done an excellent job and was retained. At 
ports with an almost purely transportation 

"^ GO 129 and Staff Memo 220, Hq ADC, 1 Aug 
43, OCT HB Alaskan Dcpt Orgn of SOS. 

'» Ltr, Noble to Wylic, 6 Aug 43, OCT HB Alaskan 
Dcpt Orgn of ATS. 

-■" Paraphrase of Rad, 19 Sep 43, CM-IN 14175, 
OCT HB Alaskan Dept Orgn of ATS; History of 
Transportation Developments Within the Alaska De- 
fense Command (hereafter cited as ADC Trans Hist), 
Rpt II, Transportation Corps Personnel and Units, 
OCT HB Alaska. 



ALASKA AND WESTERN CANADA 



39 



mission, such as Whittier, Seward, and 
Nenana, Transportation officers were as- 
signed either as post commanders or ex- 
ecutive officers to the commanders. In 
this manner, the Superintendent, ATS, 
was able to give centraHzed direction to a 
decentraUzed operation.-' 

Integration of transportation functions 
was also accomplished at ADC headquar- 
ters. Retaining his position as ATS super- 
intendent, Nickell was appointed Chief of 
Transportation and Traffic Manager, Alas- 
kan Department, in March 1944, assum- 
ing responsibility for the control and co- 
ordination of all transportation facilities 
and military traffic under the jurisdiction 
of the Commanding General, Alaskan De- 
partment, and for arrangements for air 
movement of personnel and cargo. Colonel 
Smith, previously transportation officer on 
the Alaskan Department's special stafT, 
became assistant chief of transportation. 
When motor transport on the Alaskan 
portion of the Alaska Highway was trans- 
ferred to the Alaskan Department in June 
1944, Nickell took control of this activity, 
and arranged for commercial truckers to 
handle the minor traffic flowing from Fair- 
banks to the Alaskan-Canadian border. 

Water transportation remained Colonel 
Nickell's chief responsibility, including 
port operation, intratheater shipping, and 
the operation, maintenance, and repair of 
floating equipment. Motor transportation 
activities were negligible, and after much 
delay most railway troops were evacuated 
in the spring of 1945. At the war's end. 
Transportation Corps strength in the Alas- 
kan Department, including the Transpor- 
tation Section and ATS headquarters, 
fifteen outport headquarters, harbor craft 
personnel, ship repair and maintenance 
units, supply personnel, and port troops, 



was approximately 3,000 officers and en- 
listed men and 500 civilians — a sizable 
number when compared with the small 
total military establishment in Alaska."" 

Shipping — The Key to the Supply 
of Alaska 

From a transportation point of view, 
Alaska was not a peninsula but an island 
linked with the continent by sea and air. 
Since the Territory produced little locally 
for its own support, the military as well as 
the civilian population depended heavily 
on shipping from the U.S. west coast. The 
supply of the Army in Alaska was initially 
maintained by a small fleet of government- 
owned and government-chartered vessels 
operated by the ATS at the San Francisco 
Port of Embarkation. In the first year of 
the build-up, ending 30 June 1941, that 
port shipped approximately 2 1 0,000 meas- 
urement tons to Alaska. Most of this 
cargo was delivered to Seward for local 
use and for rail distribution to bases under 
development in the Anchorage-Fairbanks 
area, with small tonnages going to Kodiak, 
Sitka, and other southeast Alaskan ports. 
The nine vessels in service in July 1941 
were of small capacity, had seen long serv- 
ice, and in most instances had a top speed 
of below ten knots. 

Seattle was established as a subport of 
San Francisco in August 1941, and as- 
sumed responsibility for shipments to 
Alaska. In the last six months of the year 
the ATS fleet was increased, and approxi- 
mately 330,000 measurement tons, des- 

-' Ltr, Nickell to Maj Mark C. CoUarino, Overseas 
Opns Gp OCT. 24 Aug 44, OCT HB Alaska. 

--GO 52, Hq Alaskan Dept, 18 Mar 44, KCRC 
AGO; G-4 Per Rpts, Hq Alaskan Dept, qtrs ending 
3 1 Dec 43,31 Mar 44, 30 Jun 44, 3 1 Mar 45, 30 Sep 
45, AG Opns Rpts 319.1. 



40 



THE TRANSPORTATION CORPS 



tined largely for Alaska, were shipped from 
Seattle. Building materials for the Corps 
of Engineers made up 60 percent of this 
tonnage.-'^ 

The attack on Pearl Harbor greatly 
complicated shipping problems. The ne- 
cessity for routing vessels through the 
Inside Passage and convoying them for- 
ward from Cape Spencer lengthened sea 
voyages and slowed deliveries. The num- 
ber of Alaskan stations served by Seattle 
increased from 12 in December 1941 to 38 
in October 1942. Most destination ports 
had extremely limited facilities, so that 
cargo discharge was slow and ships' turn- 
around time unduly long. 

In the first months after Pearl Harbor 
the Army, engaged in strengthening its 
defenses in other vital areas and in secur- 
ing the lines of communications to the 
Philippines and Australia, could make few 
additional vessels available for the Alaska 
run. In January 1942 the ATS at Seattle, 
which had been made a primary port of 
embarkation independent of San Francis- 
co, was operating six government-owned 
and ten bareboat-chartered vessels capa- 
ble of delivering 55,000 measurement tons 
a month. Since 106,000 measurement tons 
a month plus space for personnel were 
needed, supplies began to pile up at 
Seattle.'' 

When the local War Shipping Adminis- 
tration (WSA) representative attempted 
to effect the return to their owners of ships 
on bareboat charter to the ATS, Seattle, 
the Army objected and a lively contro- 
versy ensued. The Western Defense Com- 
mand proposed that all vessels engaged in 
the supply of Alaska be placed under mili- 
tary control, but the War Department 
considered this impracticable. Instead, 
Transportation Corps and WSA officials 
in Washington arranged a compromise 



whereby vessels already under bareboat 
charter to ATS would remain in that 
status; other commercial vessels in the 
Alaskan service would continue to be 
manned and operated by their owners, 
and WSA would allocate them to the 
Army, the Navy, or civilian agencies as re- 
quired. Those ships allocated to the Army 
were loaded and directed to their destina- 
tions by the ATS.-^ 

The transports owned and chartered by 
the Army plus those allocated to it by 
WSA were insufficient to carry the bur- 
den. The situation grew serious after April 
1942, as demands arising from construc- 
tion work on the Alaska Highway and 
other western Canadian projects were 
added to Alaskan requirements. To allevi- 
ate the shortage, six vessels were diverted 
from other services to the Alaskan run. In 
addition, the ATS at Seattle arranged for 
fishing vessels to carry Army cargo to 
southeastern Alaskan ports upon their de- 
parture for fishing banks in the area; 
chartered a few Canadian vessels and 
available space on commercial vessels; 
utilized tugs, barges, and vessels unsuit- 
able for ocean duty to deliver cargo to In- 
side Passage ports; and arranged for naval 
vessels to carry some Army cargo. In July 



-•'■ Memo of Red, Jackson, 1 1 Aug 41, sub: USAT 
Alaskan Sv, OCT HB Ocean Trans Alaska; Ltr, Col 
Thomas J. Weed, Supt ATS SPE, to TQMG, 17 Feb 
42, OCT HB Ocean Trans Alaska; SPE Hist Rpt IV, 
p. l,OCTHBSPE. 

-' Rpt, Brig Gen Eley P. Denson, CO SPE, to Contl 
Div OCT, 8 Nov 42, sub: Rpt on Adm Devels, OCT 
HB SPE Corres; SPE Hist Rpt VHI, pp. 1-2, OCT 
HB SPE; Memo, Gross for CG SOS, 1 5 Mar 42, sub: 
Trans of Material to SW Alaska, ASF 39-2 Alaska 
384. 

- ■ Ltr, Lt Gen John L. DeWitt, CG WDC and 
Fourth Army, to CG SOS, 10 Mar 42, sub: Ships for 
theSupof Alaska, OCT 555-561.1 Alaska 41-42; Ltr, 
Som.ervell to CG WDC, 1 1 Mar 42, same sub, OCT 
544.3-563.8 Seattle 41-42; Memo, OCT for OPD, 5 
May 42, sub: Purchase of Vessels by ATS, OCT 
523.07-554.4 Alaska 41-42. 



ALASKA AND WESTERN CANADA 



41 



1942 Alaska Barge Line operations were 
instituted to deliver materials from Seattle 
and Prince Rupert to Juneau for trans- 
shipment westward on ocean-going vessels. 
In this fashion, water shipments to Alaska 
and western Canada were increased from 
50,347 measurement tons in December 
1941 to 234,287 measurement tons in 
October 1942. In the same period over 
64,000 troops were transported by water 
to Alaskan and western Canadian 
stations.'-'' 

By November 1942, twenty-nine U.S.- 
owned and U.S. -chartered vessels in the 
Alaskan service, supplemented by barges, 
fishing vessels and WSA-allocated ships, 
were meeting minimum requirements, but 
they did not deliver sufficient tonnage to 
overcome the general shortage of housing, 
construction materials, and other supplies. 
With shipping barely adequate for de- 
fensive purposes, tactical operations were 
possible only after careful logistical plan- 
ning. When Adak was occupied in August 
1942, shipping was phased so that vessels 
did not arrive faster than they could be 
discharged. Later in the year, the War 
Department's diversion of several vessels 
from the Alaskan run to meet lend-lease 
commitments to the Soviet Union caused 
the cancellation of plans to occupy Tanaga 
Island in the Aleutians. Most of this ship- 
ping was soon replaced, but the incident 
indicated the narrow margin on which the 
Army operated in Alaska.-' 

During the first half of 1943, the ship- 
ping situation steadily improved. Port 
facilities at Seattle and Prince Rupert and 
in Alaska were expanded, and the world- 
wide shipping shortage eased somewhat. 
In May approximately a hundred Army 
transports and commercial vessels were on 
the Alaska run, as well as tugs, barges, 
and other floating equipment."^ Water de- 



liveries attained an all-time high in July, 
when Seattle and Prince Rupert shipped 
364,106 measurement tons to Alaska and 
western Canada. In this period shipping 
was also made available for new tactical 
operations, which culminated in the Kiska 
landings in August 1943. 

With the ensuing curtailment of activ- 
ities and the consequent reduction of mili- 
tary strength in Alaska and western 
Canada, water shipments fell off' steadily, 
averaging about 54,000 measurement tons 
monthly in late 1944. By the end of the 
year. Army troops in Alaska had been re- 
duced from a peak of 150,000 in August 
1943 to 52,000, while military personnel 
in NWSC had decreased from 24,000 to 
2,400. At the war's close, water deliveries 
were on the order of 30,000 measurement 
tons a month. Vessels from the zone of in- 
terior were then calling at six major Alas- 
kan ports, from which passengers and 
cargo were transshipped to other stations 
by vessels under theater control.--' 

Development of Subparts for Seattle 

The build-up of Alaskan defenses fol- 
lowing the Pearl Harbor attack was re- 
tarded by congestion at the Seattle Port of 

-'' Memo, Maj Norman H. Vissering, Chief Traffic 
Sec OCT, for Col McGinley, 9 May 42, OCT HB 
Ocean Trans Alaska: Ltr, Weed to Cofl^ 26 May 42, 
sub: Vessels Operating out of SPE, OCT 544.3-563.4 
Seattle 41-42. For statistics on water deliveries to 
Alaska and western Canada see Alaskan Dept Hist, 
App. I, Water Transportation, Pt. I, Tab. 6. 

-■ SPE Hist Rpt VII, p. 6, OCT HB SPE: G-4 Per 
Rpt, Hq ADC, Initial Rpt, 10 Dec 42, pp. 13-14; Ltr, 
DeWitt to CofS, 1 Dec 42, sub: Shipping Rqmts for 
Alaska. OCT 565.4 Alaska 41-42; Memo, Maj Gen 
Thomas T. Handy, ACofS, for TAG, 12 Dec 42, same 
sub, OPD 565.4 Sec I, Cases 1-36. 

-" ADC Trans Hist, Rpt I, General, OCT HB. 

-^ G-4 Per Rpts, Hq Alaskan Dept, qtr ending 31 
Dec 43, pp. 1-2, qtr ending 30 Jun 44, p. 2, qtr end- 
ing 30 Sep 45, p. 6, AG Opns Rpts 319.1; STM-30, 
Strength of the Army, 1 Dec 45, pp. 62-63. 



42 



THE TRANSPORTATION CORPS 



Embarkation as well as the shipping 
shortage. The rail net leading into Seattle, 
the terminal facilities, and the port per- 
sonnel were inadequate immediately to 
handle the accelerated movement of 
troops, supplies, and equipment. In an 
effort to relieve the burden on Seattle and 
to increase the lift to Alaska, a number of 
subports were established in western 
Canada and southeastern Alaska. 

The first and most important of the sub- 
ports was Prince Rupert, British Colum- 
bia, situated almost 600 miles north of 
Seattle at the western terminus of the 
Canadian National Railway. With Can- 
ada's consent, the subport was officially 
activated on 6 April 1942, for the purpose 
of shipping to southeast Alaskan stations 
cargo that could be routed to it by rail 
from eastern and central United States as 
well as a smaller amount delivered by ves- 
sel, barge, and rail from Seattle. Imme- 
diately available at Prince Rupert were 
leased docks capable of berthing three ves- 
sels, a transit shed, limited open and closed 
storage space, and a small group of two 
officers and twenty-six civilians who had 
handled the salvage and reshipment of the 
cargo of a transport grounded nearby. 
Steps were taken to augment port person- 
nel and construct additional port facilities, 
and tugs, barges, and small Canadian ves- 
sels were chartered or obtained from Seat- 
tle to supplement the ocean-going vessels 
operating out of the port. Installations to 
handle ammunition were leased at Wat- 
son Island, twelve miles from Prince 
Rupert, and a staging area was placed 
under construction three miles beyond at 
Port Edward.'^" 

Prince Rupert's development was 
slower than expected, the port shipping 
forward less than 50,000 measurement 
tons and fewer than 3,000 troops in its first 



ten months of operation. The scarcity of 
local labor and materials retarded con- 
struction, and a shortage of floating equip- 
ment limited traffic. Operations were 
further handicapped in the winter of 
1942-43 by congestion on the Canadian 
railways, which were overtaxed with sup- 
plies for the Alaska Highway and Canol 
as well as for Prince Rupert. In the ab- 
sence of centralized traffic control, freight 
car movements were un-co-ordinated, 
and agencies concerned, both contractor 
and military, diverted and unloaded cars 
without regard to consignee or owner- 
ship of the freight. As a result, individual 
cars meandered along the line all the 
way from Waterways to Edmonton, Daw- 
son Creek, and Prince Rupert, before 
they were either unloaded or trans- 
shipped. Some semblance of order ap- 
peared with the establishment in Novem- 
ber 1942 of a Rail Regulating Station at 
Edmonton, but the tie-up could not be 
materially eased until March 1943, when 
a temporary embargo was placed on rail 
shipments into Canada. " 

Operations began to improve in the late 
spring and summer of 1943 as rail conges- 
tion was reduced and construction pro- 
gressed. Three new berths for vessels and 
three barge berths were completed, a dock 
apron, a transit shed, and storage space 
were added, and by midyear housing for 
3,000 men was provided at the Port Ed- 
ward staging area. With increased facil- 
ities available, Prince Rupert in March 



"" Unless otherwise cited, the section on Prince 
Rupert is based upon: Rpt, 1st Lt Theodore G. Wear, 
Jr., History of the Subport of Embarkation at Prince 
Rupert to 30 September 1942, and subsequent hist 
rpts, OCT HB SPE Prince Rupert Subport; SPE Hist 
Rpts V and XXX, OCT HB SPE. 

■' NWSC First Semi- Annual Rpt, Jan 44, p. 8, AG 
Opns Rpts 91 SCl-0.3 (1596) M, 25 Sep 42- 1 Jan 44; 
Harpold memo cited n. 10. 



ALASKA AND WESTERN CANADA 



43 



1943 was assigned direct responsibility for 
the supply of Alaskan stations southward 
from Yakutat, including the Excursion 
Inlet barge terminal, and for water deliv- 
eries to forces in western Canada through 
Skagway. Port traffic increased steadily, 
hitting a peak in July 1943, when Prince 
Rupert shipped forward approximately 
95,000 measurement tons, received about 
47,000 measurement tons by rail and 
water, and handled over 12,600 military 
and civilian personnel arrivals and de- 
partures. Staffed by some 3,900 troops and 
civilians, the subport then had operating 
responsibility for 1 7 cargo vessels of 60,000 
measurement tons capacity, 17 tugs, and 
scows with a capacity of 22,000 measure- 
ment tons. 

Water shipments dropped to 38,518 
measurement tons in August and contin- 
ued to decrease despite the fact that Prince 
Rupert was given the added responsibility 
in December of supplying the stations 
served by the Alaska Railroad. While the 
curtailment of activities in Alaska and 
western Canada materially reduced the 
port's value, the fact that Seattle was being 
groomed to play a major part in support 
of Pacific operations made advisable 
Prince Rupert's retention as a reserve port 
ready to take over the entire supply of 
Alaska should Seattle become overbur- 
dened. In the summer of 1944 the port 
was reduced in strength and nonessential 
installations were placed on a stand-by 
basis. Prince Rupert continued in oper- 
ation as an outport of Seattle throughout 
the war, shipping to Alaska and the Pa- 
cific Ocean Areas such supplies as could 
economically be laid down at the port.^" 

Like Prince Rupert, the Juneau and 
Excursion Inlet subports had their genesis 
in the shipping crisis of early 1942. 
Alarmed by the growing backlog of con- 



struction materials needed for the devel- 
opment of new bases in southwestern 
Alaska, the district engineer at Seattle 
proposed making large-scale barge deliv- 
eries via the Inside Passage to a terminal 
in the vicinity of Cape Spencer, where 
cargo would be transferred to ocean-going 
vessels for westward delivery. By cutting 
in half the voyages of transports, the barge 
operation would greatly increase the 
amount of cargo they could deliver to 
Alaska. 

The plan was adopted by Western De- 
fense Command and received War De- 
partment approval in May 1942. The 
Army Engineers thereupon undertook a 
survey to determine the best site for a ter- 
minal and the construction required. The 
Seattle port commander, who was as- 
signed responsibility for the project's de- 
velopment, formulated plans for a barge 
line designed ultimately to deliver 150,000 
measurement tons a month and set up an 
interim operation to Juneau with craft 
locally available. ^^ 

The transshipment operation at Juneau 
contributed little to the supply of Alaska, 
principally because of limited port facil- 
ities and the slow development of the 
barge line. The production of necessary 
new floating equipment took time, and in 
the meantime only a limited number of 
craft could be secured through charter, 

'- Memo, Wylie for CG ASF, 8 Jan 44, sub: Instal- 
lations of Prince Rupert, Juneau, Excursion Inlet, and 
Edmonton, OCT 323.3 Alaska 44-45; Memo, ACofS 
G-4 for CG ASF, 13 May 44, sub: Devel and Use of 
Prince Rupert, ASF Ping Div A 47-192 Vol. 25 Prince 
Rupert. 

^^ Ltr, Col Beverly C. Dunn, District Engr, to CG 
WDC, 28 Mar 42, sub: Trans of Materials to SW 
Alaska; Ltr, Somervell to CG WDC and Fourth 
Army, 17 May 42, same sub; 1st Ind, Office Supt 
ATS SPE to CofT, 18 Jun 42. All in OCT 567 Alaska 
4 1 -42. Also see Ltr, Denson to CofT, 1 7 Jul 42, sub: 
Devel of Sub-PE-Icy Straits/Juneau, OCT 323.3 
Alaska 44-45. 



44 



THE TRANSPORTATION CORPS 



lease, and purchase. In October 1942 the 
barge line was hauling about 18,000 tons 
monthly from Seattle and Prince Rupert, 
for delivery to Skagway and other Inside 
Passage ports as well as Juneau. More- 
over, increased water deliveries direct to 
Alaskan destinations in the latter part of 
1942 eased the pressure for augmentation 
of the barge line, and the lion's share of 
newly acquired floating equipment was 
allotted to ADC for lighterage and other 
operations in Alaska. These developments, 
together with diversions of craft to tactical 
operations in the Aleutians, accidents, 
and equipment breakdowns, caused de- 
liveries to Juneau to remain far below 
those originally planned.^' From its acti- 
vation in July 1942, when the first ship- 
ments of cargo arrived by barge, the 
Juneau subport received only 50,548 
measurement tons by barge. Army trans- 
port, and commercial vessel from Seattle 
and Prince Rupert, and shipped forward 
only 32,716 measurement tons to destina- 
tions from Yakutat westward. ^^ 

Meanwhile, Excursion Inlet, a barren 
site located at the head of the Inside Pas- 
sage had been selected for the planned 
barge terminal. Construction, begun in 
September 1942, was sufficiently ad- 
vanced by the following spring to warrant 
the transfer of most transshipment opera- 
tions from Juneau. Activated on 22 March 
1943, Excursion Inlet received approxi- 
mately 275,000 measurement tons during 
the year, much of it by barge, small Ca- 
nadian vessels, and other ships unsuitable 
for long ocean voyages, and shipped for- 
ward about 156,000 measurement tons to 
Alaskan destinations as far west as Attu. 
At the end of 1943 some 7,000 troops and 
180 civilians were on duty at the subport, 
and construction completed included two 
1,000-foot wharves, two 4,000-foot barge 



extensions, two oil docks, cold storage and 
marine repair facilities, housing, thirty 
miles of road, and a station hospital. ^"^ 

The transshipment operation was not 
expanded beyond this point. The shift of 
military strength in Alaska to the Aleu- 
tians reduced the savings in ships' turn- 
around time that could be effected by 
using Excursion Inlet. Moreover, it was 
more important to furnish employment 
for the civilian labor pools at U.S. west 
coast ports such as Seattle, which was not 
then being used to capacity, than to con- 
tinue operation of a port of limited value 
with troop labor. By April 1944, when the 
War Department ordered the subport's 
discontinuance, cargo arrivals had vir- 
tually ceased, accumulated cargo was 
being cleared, and military strength was 
in the process of reduction.'" Salvageable 
materials were then shipped back to the 
United States, and a small caretaker de- 
tachment was left behind at the installa- 
tion, which was formally inactivated in 
January 1945. 

Although over-all barge deliveries can- 
not be segregated in the available port 
statistics, it was estimated that 240,000 
measurement tons were shipped by barge 
from Prince Rupert and Seattle between 
October 1942 and August 1943. In the fall 

■•' SPE Hist Rpt VIII, OCT HB SPE; Ltr and Incl, 
DeWitt to CofS, 1 Oct 42, sub: Construction of Fltg 
Equip for the NW, and Memo, Handy to TAG, 1 Dec 
42, sub: Shipping Rqmts for Alaska, OPD 565.4 Sec 
I Cases 1-36. 

'' On Juneau, see Hist Rpts, Juneau Subport of 
Embarkation, Activation Through December 1943, 
OCT HB SPE Juneau Sub-PE; SPE Hist Rpt V, pp. 
17-23, OCT HB SPE. 

'" On Excursion Inlet see Hist Rpts, Mar-Dec 43, 
OCT HB SPE Excursion Inlet Subport, and SPE Hist 
Rpt V, pp. 23-25 and App. B-D, OCT HB SPE. 

'' Ltr, Col Clifford Starr, Chief Adm Div OCT, to 
CG SPE, 31 Dec 43, sub: Reduction in Troop 
Strength-Excursion Inlet, and Ltr, TAG to CofT, 4 
Apr 44, sub: Disposition of Excursion Inlet Sub-PE, 
OCT 323.3 Alaska 44-45. 



ALASKA AND WESTERN CANADA 



45 



of 1943 barge operations were accounting 
for a substantial proportion of deliveries to 
Excursion Inlet and for approximately 
22,000 measurement tons a month carried 
to Skagway and other southeastern Alas- 
kan ports. "^ But their importance was al- 
ready declining. After the close of trans- 
shipment activities at Excursion Inlet, 
barge operations were limited chiefly to 
small-scale deliveries from Prince Rupert 
to Skagway and other southeastern Alas- 
kan destinations. 

Unlike Juneau and Excursion Inlet, 
which were transshipment ports for the 
supply of Alaskan stations, Skagway was 
developed as an ocean terminal for U.S. 
military and civilian forces in western 
Canada.^'' Located at the head of the 
Lynn Canal and connected by rail with 
the Alaska Highway, Skagway began re- 
ceiving cargoes in the spring of 1942 for 
the supply of construction and other forces 
served out of Whitehorse. By the fall of the 
year Skagway was becoming badly con- 
gested. Available military and civilian 
labor was insufficient, and the narrow- 
gauge railroad and its wooden two-berth 
dock were antiquated, poorly equipped, 
and extremely limited in capacity. 

To cope with the situation, Skagway 
was established as an Army subport of 
Seattle in September 1942. Work was be- 
gun on dock improvement, cargo-han- 
dling equipment arrived, and port troops 
were assigned to handle dock operations, 
warehousing, and carloading. At the same 
time, the Army leased and took over oper- 
ation of the rail line. Improvement was 
immediate, but the onset of severe winter 
weather in December again curtailed port 
operations, and the small volume of ton- 
nage discharged from ships and barges 
piled up on docks and in storage areas 
because of interruptions in rail service. 



With the moderating of the weather the 
upswing in port traffic was resumed, and 
in May 1943 Skagway discharged ap- 
proximately 30,000 weight tons, over four 
times its September 1942 performance. By 
this time two additional vessel berths, new 
barge grids, and more storage space were 
available, port personnel had been in- 
creased, and improved rail operations had 
cut down backlogs at the port. Traffic at 
Skagway reached a peak in August 1943, 
with the discharge of approximately 58,- 
000 weight tons (estimated at 90,000- 
100,000 measurement tons). 

Skagway was transferred from Seattle's 
control on 1 September 1943, becoming a 
port of debarkation under the Northwest 
Service Command. During the remainder 
of the year port activity declined sharply 
as construction projects in western Can- 
ada neared completion. The subsequent 
evacuation of civilian contractor em- 
ployees and equipment took up some of 
the slack, but this failed to halt the gen- 
eral downward trend of port traffic. With 
the general curtailment of NWSC activ- 
ities in 1944, the port was reduced in 
strength. Later in the year, in order to 
make maximum use of the personnel 
available and to provide unified direction 
to the interrelated port and railroad activ- 
ities, both operations were consolidated 
and placed under an Army officer desig- 

'* Address at Boston Conf by Brig Gen Eley P. Den- 
son, 30 Aug-1 Sep 43, Special Problems in Supply of 
Alaska, OCT HB Alaska Misc Info; Ltr, Lt Col J. A. 
Barthrop. Supt ATS SPE, to CofT, 26 Aug 43, sub: 
Tug and Barge Construction, OCT HB Alaskan Dept 
Fltg Equip. 

'■' On Skagway, see the following: Hist Rpts, Skag- 
way Subport of Embarkation, OCT HB SPE Skag- 
way POD; Hist Rpt, 375th Port Battalion, Transpor- 
tation Corps, AG Opns Rpts TCBN-375-0. 1 (29703) 
M, 1 Sep 42-31 Dec 44. For statistics see Hq NWSC 
and Off of Div Engr NW Div, Trans Br 563.59 Ton- 
nage and Estimates, KCRC AGO. 



46 



THE TRANSPORTATION CORPS 



nated general superintendent. The small 
continuing traffic was handled by a com- 
bination of military and civilian person- 
nel, and provision was made for the 
eventual replacement of all Army troops 
by civilians/" 

The Alaskan Ports 

During the three years of the Alaskan 
build-up ending with the occupation of 
Kiska in August 1943, there evolved a 
large number of scattered and isolated 
ports possessing limited facilities and often 
subject to adverse climatic conditions. ^^ 
In southeastern and central Alaska, the 
ports were generally ice-free, but handi- 
capped by excessive fog and rain. North 
and northwest of Kodiak, the ports were 
icebound seven to eight months in the 
year and had to be supplied entirely dur- 
ing the summer season. With the excep- 
tion of Bethel, which could handle ships 
drawing up to eighteen feet of water, these 
ports were rendered unsuitable for dock 
operation by rough seas, high winds, and 
shallow and rocky approaches. Ships had 
to be discharged by lighterage since they 
had to anchor twelve miles offshore at 
Naknek, six miles at Port Heiden, and two 
miles at Nome. The Aleutian chain, 
stretching 1,200 miles westward from the 
Alaska Peninsula, was ice-free, but with 
the exception of Dutch Harbor the ports 
were barren, wind-swept, and sparsely in- 
habited. Umnak, garrisoned in early 
1942, lacked harbors and had to be sup- 
plied by barge from Chernofski Harbor, 
twelve miles to the southwest. As other 
Aleutian bases were occupied, it was nec- 
essary to start from scratch, lightering in 
troops, equipment, and supplies, con- 
structing docks, sorting sheds, warehouses, 
and other base facilities, and eventually 



converting from lighterage to dock 
operations. 

At most Alaskan ports, the scarcity of 
civilian labor made necessary the exten- 
sive use of military personnel for handling 
cargo. In the absence of trained port units, 
Engineer and tactical troops were em- 
ployed. Army port companies were even- 
tually brought in and one or two were as- 
signed to each of the larger ice-free ports, 
but these units were often heavily supple- 
mented by tactical troops, particularly at 
the Aleutian ports. At the icebound and 
the smaller ice-free stations, port labor 
continued to be performed largely by gar- 
rison troops. Some assistance was provided 
through continuance of a peacetime prac- 
tice of ships engaged in the Alaskan trade, 
since crew members on both commercial 
vessels and Army transports acted as 
winchmen and longshoremen and per- 
formed other duties incident to cargo dis- 
charge and loading. ^- 

The principal prewar port was Seward. 
Located at the southern terminus of the 
Alaska Railroad, it was the port of entry 
for Army and civilian goods for Anchor- 
age, Fairbanks, and other points served by 
the rail line. Cargo was discharged by 
civilian longshoremen over an old rail- 
road-owned dock capable of berthing two 
ocean-going vessels. Seward was able to 
handle cargoes for the initial build-up of 
the Anchorage-Fairbanks area, but with 
the increased traffic following Pearl Har- 
bor the Army had to construct a new two- 
berth dock and bring in port troops. In 

'" NWSC MPRs, Sep 44, pp. 3-4, Dec 44, pp. 3, 7, 
DRBAGO. 

" Unless otherwise cited, narrative and statistical 
data pertaining to the Alaskan ports are drawn from 
ADC Trans Hist, Rpt I and supplementary per rpts. 

'- Ltr, Col John M. Franklin, Chief Water Div 
OCT, to WSA, 25 Aug 42, sub: Crew Members 
Working as Stevedores, OCT HB Ocean Trans 
Alaska. 



ALASKA AND WESTERN CANADA 



47 



April 1943 the three port companies on 
duty at Seward, together with civilian 
longshoremen, discharged approximately 
38,000 measurement tons of Army cargo. 

Despite the improvements, Seward was 
not retained as the main port of entry for 
stations on the rail belt, because the 
mountainous southern section of the rail 
line impeded traffic moving northward.'' 
In May 1943 a rail cutoff was completed 
extending from Portage junction, sixty- 
four miles north of Seward, eastward to 
Whittier on Prince William Sound. Virtu- 
ally all Army cargo was then routed 
through Whittier, which commenced op- 
erations on 1 June 1943 with a newly con- 
structed Army dock capable of berthing 
two ocean-going vessels and adequate rail- 
way yard and terminal facilities. Whittier 
handled its peak traffic in July 1944, when 
two port companies discharged or loaded 
53,500 measurement tons. When the war 
ended the port was still active, but rarely 
handled more than 10,000 measurement 
tons a month. 

Anchorage, the third port on the Alaska 
Railroad, was the site of the largest mili- 
tary station on the Alaskan mainland. 
Unfortunately, it was icebound six to 
seven months of the year, and during the 
open season operations were handicapped 
by tides of unusual height and bore. The 
Army rehabilitated the single-berth dock 
in the spring of 1941, but made few other 
improvements. In the open season incom- 
ing tonnage was handled by troops de- 
tailed from the post. During the rest of the 
year installations in the Anchorage area 
were supplied through Seward and later 
Whittier. 

The only other port linked with the in- 
terior of central Alaska was Valdez, the 
southern roadhead of the Richardson 
Highway. Since the road was open only 



four months in the year, activities at Val- 
dez were seasonal, the port receiving little 
tonnage during the winter months but dis- 
charging as much as 27,000 measurement 
tons monthly during the brief summer, for 
shipment by truck to stations as far north 
as Fairbanks. The prewar commercial 
port facilities were adequate and labor 
was provided by garrison troops. In the 
latter part of 1943, with the discontinu- 
ance of the motor transport operation, 
Valdez was placed on a caretaker status. 

Other ports in central and southeastern 
Alaska, including Cordova, Yakutat, An- 
nette Island, and Sitka, were isolated and 
were used only for the supply of local gar- 
risons and airfields. Extensive improve- 
ment of existing dock and lighterage facil- 
ities was not required; labor was provided 
by civilian longshoremen, where available, 
and by garrison troops. Like Valdez and 
the icebound stations, these ports handled 
insignificant traffic after 1943. 

Kodiak was already being developed as 
a naval base when the first Army troops 
arrived in April 1941. Initially, two Navy 
docks, capable of berthing three vessels 
each, and a privately owned wharf were 
available. In March 1942 the Army pur- 
chased a cannery dock, and improved it to 
a point where it could handle a large 
ocean-going vessel. Dock labor was pro- 
vided by civilian longshoremen until a 
port company arrived in November 1942. 
Relations among the Army, Navy, and 
civilian dock owners were excellent, each 
making its facilities and labor available to 
the others. 

To the westward, Dutch Harbor stood 
as the prewar naval bastion overlooking 
the Aleutian chain. When the first Army 
garrison troops arrived in May 1941, they 
used the Navy dock and the commercially 
' ' See below, pp. 53-54. 



48 



THE TRANSPORTATION CORPS 



owned Unalaska Dock. The Army took 
over the latter installation in September 
1942 and later completed construction of 
a new dock and a number of berths for 
small boats at Captains Bay. Army cargo- 
handling activities were conducted by tac- 
tical troops until December 1942, when a 
port company arrived. Dutch Harbor 
loaded or discharged up to 34,300 meas- 
urement tons of Army cargo monthly dur- 
ing 1943, and although traffic declined 
markedly thereafter it remained one of the 
major Army ports in Alaska. 

The largest Alaskan port operation had 
its origin in the selection of Adak for de- 
velopment as an advance base from which 
to bring the Japanese-held islands of Attn 
and Kiska under air attack.^* On 30 Au- 
gust 1942 six troop and cargo vessels, car- 
rying an occupation force of 4,602 officers 
and men and 43,500 measurement tons of 
supplies and equipment, arrived at Adak. 
The landing was unopposed but proved 
difficult, the uninhabited island lacking 
facilities of any kind. Troops were light- 
ered ashore by 32 LCP's (landing craft, 
personnel) and 4 LCM's (landing craft, 
mechanized) of the Navy transport 
J. Franklin Bell. A fifty-knot wind and 
heavy surf caused many of the landing 
craft to be broached, and their continued 
operation was made possible only after 
ATS tugs arrived and towed them back 
into the water. All troops were pressed 
into service to manhandle the cargo from 
landing craft to the high-water mark on 
the beach. As cranes and tractors were 
landed through the surf, it was possible to 
move cargo from the beach to dispersal 
areas. Cargo was unloaded from lighter to 
beach until the third day, when a barge 
dock was improvised by beaching one 
barge and fastening two others to it as an 
extension. Unloading was completed on 6 



September, and thereafter additional 
Army and Navy personnel were brought 
in as rapidly as available shipping and 
port capacity would permit. 

Under the leadership of the post com- 
mander. Brig. Gen. Eugene M. Landrum, 
Adak was developed into a powerful for- 
ward air base, a staging area for subse- 
quent expeditions, and the most impor- 
tant port in Alaska. Docks, sorting sheds, 
and warehouses were constructed, port 
operations were systematized, and port 
troops, cargo-handling equipment, and 
trucks were brought in. From his tactical 
staff. General Landrum detailed a port 
commander and subordinate officers, in- 
cluding an ATS assistant superintendent 
and a harbor boat master. The port com- 
mander directly controlled all service and 
tactical forces engaged in port operations, 
including ATS officers, port companies, 
and harbor craft, truck, sorting-shed, and 
warehouse troops. This improvised port 
organization proved highly effective and 
was made a model for other ports by Gen- 
eral Whittaker. In April 1943 Adak dis- 
charged approximately 130,000 weight 
tons. The Army had completed a pile- 
driven lighterage dock and two piers ca- 
pable of berthing three ocean-going ves- 
sels, while the Navy had built a separate 
dock at Sweeper Cove. Army cargo and a 
portion of the Navy cargo were handled 
by two assigned port companies and two 
others being staged pending assignment to 
more advanced ports, supplemented by 
large details of tactical troops. 

During the period in which Adak out- 
fitted task forces for additional landings in 
the Aleutians, the port commander. Colo- 
nel Nickell, trained several officer teams 

" (;-3 Rpt, G-3 Sec WDC, Offensive Phases of the 
Aleutians Campaign, AG Opns Rpts 91-DC4-3() 

(5792) 14 Sep 43. 



ALASKA AND WESTERN CANADA 



49 



to assist future port commanders in organ- 
izing their operations. Using available 
port and tactical troops, the team set up 
and trained outport headquarters; organ- 
ized the harbor by the placement of buoys 
and set up a system for dispatching land- 
ing craft, tugs, and barges; developed 
ship-to-shore discharge, first with landing 
craft, then with barges, and finally from 
docks; and organized the handling of dis- 
charged cargo, at first with tractors on the 
beach and later with trucks at docks, sort- 
ing yards, and dispersal areas. After estab- 
lishing a port operation, the team might 
stay on or be used in a new landing. Nick- 
ell himself moved to Attu as port com- 
inander early in its development and later 
took command of the Shemya port, where 
he served until his appointment as Super- 
ntendent, ATS.* ' 

After the Aleutian Campaign, Adak 
continued as the most active Alaskan port. 
It became a transshipment port, receiving 
supplies from Seattle and distributing 
them by small vessels and barges to minor 
ports in the area. Adak handled over 
1 00,000 measurement tons in some months 
of early 1944, but the general reduction in 
military strength soon brought a marked 
decline in traffic. 

The advance down the Aleutians 
brought into operation a number of im- 
portant ports to the west of Adak. At Am- 
chitka, occupied in January 1943, the port 
repeated the cycle of lighterage, construc- 
tion, expansion, and conversion from 
barge to dock operations that had charac- 
terized Adak's development. Berthing 
facilities for two ships were completed in 
June 1943. After discharging a peak of 
63,000 measurement tons in September 
Amchitka handled less traffic, and by late 
1944 was receiving only small tonnages, 
largely by transshipment from Adak. 



After Amchitka's occupation, it was 
decided to bypass Kiska and take Attu, at 
the western end of the Aleutian chain. In 
the spring of 1943 an assault force of 
1 1,000 was assembled on the U.S. west 
coast and sailed from San Francisco on 24 
April in five transports with a strong naval 
escort. "' The U.S. forces started landing in 
heavy fog on the beaches of Massacre and 
Holtz Bays on 1 1 May 1943. Troops and 
equipment were carried ashore by Navy 
LCT's (landing craft, tank), LCVP's 
(landing craft, vehicle and personnel), and 
LCM's. The handling of cargo on the 
beaches was the responsibility of the 50th 
Engineer Regiment, under Maj. Samuel 
R. Peterson, the shore party commander. 

First landing operations were confused. 
The assault force had been given no prac- 
tice in amphibious landings in fog or in 
darkness and was unfamiliar with Alas- 
kan climate and terrain. Many craft lost 
their way in the fog, broke down, or were 
delayed in landing their cargoes and re- 
turning to their ships. The unloading of 
supplies from ships to landing craft was 
not co-ordinated, and the system of mark- 
ers indicating where supplies for each 
service were to land broke down. Despite 
the efforts of the Engineers, supplies piled 
up on the beach and became jumbled, 
making difficult their segregation and 
routing to the dumps. Movement from 
beach to dumps was delayed as tractors 



■'■' See Nickell Itr, cited n. 21. 

^•^ Unless otherwise noted, the account of the Attu 
campaign is based upon: Draft MS, Capt Nelson L. 
Drummond, Jr., The Attu Operation, 24 May 45, Pt. 
II, Sec. Ill; Alaskan Dept Hist, Ch. IV; ONI Weekly, 
19 May 43, Vol. Ill, No. 20, p. 1391. All in OCMH 
Files. Rpt, Gen Landrum, CG Landing Forces, to 
TAG, 25 Jun 43, sub: Rpt on Opns at Attu, AG Opns 
Rpts 91-TF4-0.3 (23374) M 22 Jun 43; WD, The Cap- 
ture of Attu, As Told by the Men Who Fought There 
("Fighting Forces Series" [paper-bound ed.; Washing- 
ton: The Infantry Journal, 1944]), pp. 1-27. 



50 



THE TRANSPORTATION CORPS 



and trailers, operated by inexperienced 
drivers, broke through the tundra and 
mired down in the mud beneath. The 
mountainous terrain and the absence of 
roads Hmited vehicle movements from 
dumps to the interior, compelling the 
Army to rely on large troop details hand- 
carrying supplies in support of combat 
elements. 

Despite the difficulties, the initial land- 
ing force and a portion of the supplies and 
equipment were landed by noon of the 
second day, but much of the cargo had to 
wait until the weather improved before it 
was unloaded. Fog not only limited cargo 
discharge, but also caused a temporary 
stalemate in the fighting. After several 
days a slight break in the weather permit- 
ted Army and Navy aircraft to go into ac- 
tion, and ground forces began a slow but 
steady advance in the face of stiff resist- 
ance. 

As U.S. forces proceeded inland, dis- 
charge operations, concentrated largely at 
Massacre Bay, improved. Larger Navy 
landing craft, LCT's and LST's (landing 
ships, tanks) arrived, carrying cargo from 
ship to shore until the third week of opera- 
tions, when ATS tugs and barges moved 
in to take over lighterage activities. Mean- 
while, congestion on the beach was re- 
lieved by locating dumps on the banks of 
a creek and using the gravelly bed as a 
supply road for vehicle deliveries from the 
beach. The shore party commander. 
Major Peterson, temporarily became port 
commander, two port companies arrived 
from Adak, and port facilities were placed 
under construction. When on 31 May 
American forces captured Chichagof Har- 
bor, the last enemy stronghold on Attn, 
supplies were flowing across the beach to 
the interior without serious interruption. 

During the course of the Attn cam- 



paign, several pieces of equipment proved 
valuable in the movement of supplies. In 
particular D6 wide-tread tractors and 
Athey full-tracked trailers proved indis- 
pensable in negotiating the tundra-cov- 
ered beaches. An innovation was the use 
of sled pallets to which supplies were 
strapped. Used as dunnage aboard ship, 
they could be towed by tractors when put 
ashore. With some modifications, the pal- 
let was used in the Kiska landings and re- 
ceived extensive use in amphibious opera- 
tions in the Pacific. 

Toward the end of combat operations, 
Attu moved into the base development 
phase. Colonel Nickell, who had landed 
with the initial force as a member of a 
party to make a reconnaissance for port 
facilities, arrived from Adak with an offi- 
cer team to take over port operations; 
Major Peterson became executive officer. 
A port organization patterned after that 
of Adak was developed and the conversion 
from barge to dock operation was effected. 
By 10 July 1943 a two-berth dock and a 
sorting area were completed and the 100,- 
000 measurement tons put ashore since 
the establishment of the port had been 
cleared. Tug and barge operations were 
continued in order to supply outposts 
around the island's perimeter, and to 
transship cargo over sixty miles of water 
to Shemya after that island was occupied. 
Attu handled its peak traffic in the winter 
of 1943-44, discharging up to 42,923 
measurement tons and loading up to 22,- 
302 measurement tons monthly. Despite 
a decline in operations thereafter, Attu 
remained an active reception and trans- 
shipment port. 

Shemya, the largest of the Semichi 
Islands, was the next objective following 
the Attu landings. In the first months after 
its occupation in June 1943, two port com- 



ALASKA AND WESTERN CANADA 



51 



panics arrived; docks, airfields, and roads 
were placed under construction; and all 
ground force vehicles were pooled to pro- 
vide transport for port and other base op- 
erations. Port development was retarded 
by the lack of dock construction materials 
and the limited floating equipment avail- 
able for shuttling cargo from ocean-going 
vessels at Massacre Bay, but a breakwater 
and piers were finally completed, and in 
the summer of 1944 Shemya was a busy 
port handling up to 76,000 measurement 
tons a month. Operations were complete- 
ly disrupted in November 1944 when a 
storm washed out sections of the break- 
water and carried away the piers. '' Con- 
tinued bad weather caused the Alaskan 
Department to place Shemya on a closed 
winter status until April 1945, when the 
first vessel of the season was discharged 
from the port's roadstead. New pier con- 
struction enabled the port to handle Lib- 
erty vessels by the end of June, and in the 
closing months of the war Shemya was 
again one of the major Alaskan ports. *"" 

The capture of Attn and the occupation 
of Shemya set the stage for the seizure of 
Kiska, the final assault operation in the 
Aleutians. In the spring and early summer 
of 1943, a combined American-Canadian 
task force was assembled on the west coast 
of the United States and Canada. After 
acclimatization and further training at 
Adak and Amchitka, the force arrived off 
Kiska on the night of 14-15 August. The 
first troops to land found that the enemy 
had withdrawn unobserved.^'' 

The Kiska operation, the largest under- 
taken in Alaska, employed 20 troop and 
cargo vessels, 14 LST's, 9 LCI's (landing 
craft, infantry), 19 LCM's, and other craft. 
Accompanying the force of approximately 
34,500 troops were 102,174 measurement 
tons of supplies and equipment. In the ab- 



sence of port facilities, cargo and person- 
nel were unloaded directly onto the beach 
from LST's or delivered from ship to 
shore by LCVP's, LCM's, and LCT's. 
Some days later, ATS barges were towed 
in by tugs from other Aleutian stations 
and assisted in lighterage operations. Six 
cranes were brought in early in the opera- 
tion to lift and stack palletized cargo and 
other heavy loads in the sorting yards. A 
port battalion, less two companies, arrived 
on a freighter simultaneously with the 
landing force and was used for discharge 
activities aboard ship. Unloading on the 
beach and work in the sorting yards were 
handled by details from various troop 
units. 

Following the landing, Kiska experi- 
enced a brief period of base development. 
By October 1943 an Army dock capable 
of berthing two ocean-going vessels, and 
a causeway leading to it, had been com- 
pleted. Port operations, previously de- 
pendent entirely on lighterage, were now 
based on ship-to-truck discharge and were 
considerably speeded up. The reduction 
of military strength, however, soon 
brought a decline in activities, and by 
mid- 1944 Kiska was a small outpost rare- 
ly receiving more than 1,000 measure- 
ment tons a month. 



*" This disruption placed a sudden and severe work- 
load on the port of Attu, which was then charged with 
unloading not only its own cargo but also that for 
Shemya. The latter cargo was transshipped to Shemya 
by harbor craft. By a radio net established between 
the two ports, it was possible to meet the emergency 
expeditiously without loss of life or harbor craft. Notes, 
Lt Col William H. Wilson, former port commander 
Attu, OCT HB Alaska Attu Misc. 

"^ G-4 Per Rpts, Hq Alaskan Dept, qtr ending 31 
Mar 45, p. 9, qtr ending 30 Jun 45, p. 7, qtr ending 30 
Sep 45, p. 6, AG Opns Rpts 319.1. 

'■' Alaskan Dept Hist, Ch. V; Combat Narrative, 
ONI, The Aleutians Campaign, Jun 42-Aug 43, pp. 
100-105, OCMH Files. 



52 



THE TRANSPORTATION CORPS 



At the end of the Aleutian Campaign, 
there were in Alaska twenty-eight ports 
scattered from Annette Island to Nome 
and Attu. As part of the general reduc- 
tion of the Alaskan garrison that ensued, 
the minor ports in southeastern and cen- 
tral Alaska were inactivated or greatly re- 
duced in strength in the winter of 1943- 
44, and wdth the exception of Nome the 
icebound ports were closed out and evacu- 
ated in the open season of 1944. These 
developments, coupled with the general 
decline in traffic, resulted in the concen- 
tration of debarkation activities at a lim- 
ited number of ports and the development 
of intratheater transport. 

Perhaps the most persistent problem 
encountered at the Alaskan ports was the 
lack of floating equipment. From the be- 
ginning, there had been a shortage of tugs, 
barges, and other craft for lighterage, out- 
post supply, and intratheater transport. 
Floating equipment, assigned to the vari- 
ous ports and operated by harbor craft 
detachments, suff'ered a high mortality 
rate because of rugged operating condi- 
tions and the virtual absence of marine 
repair and maintenance facilities. "' 

The harbor craft fleet was built up 
slowly. The equipment taken over from 
the Engineers by ATS in August 1942 was 
augmented, and by early 1943 there were 
about 190 pieces of floating equipment on 
charter to the Army in Alaska. At that 
time, the fleet was cut back sharply by a 
War Department order to return chartered 
boats to their owners in time for the com- 
ing fishing season so that food essential to 
the war effort could be provided. Mean- 
while, other floating equipment had ar- 
rived from Seattle, which had been sup- 
plying Alaska with tugs, barges, and other 
small craft since the spring of 1942. By the 
end of August 1943, Seattle had shipped 



forward to Alaska over 450 pieces of float- 
ing equipment, an amount sufficient to re- 
lieve, but not overcome, the shortage. 

Other improvements were provided 
through the construction of marine repair 
and maintenance facilities. During 1943 
barge ways were constructed at Chernof- 
ski, Kodiak, Annette, Adak, Attu, and 
Amchitka, and by early 1944 marine ways 
capable of performing major repairs on 
small vessels were in operation at Seward, 
Adak, and Amchitka. These facilities, to- 
gether with the assignment of additional 
craft and small freighters, produced a 
steady improvement in the floating equip- 
ment situation during 1944. As ports 
were reduced in number and traffic de- 
clined, the Army's floating plant proved 
adequate for lighterage, outpost supply, 
and the development of intratheater 
transport.''' 

In the final wartime months, vessels ar- 
riving in the theater discharged almost 
exclusively at Whittier, Dutch Harbor, 
Adak, Attu, Shemya, and Nome. Trans- 
shipment of cargo and personnel to and 
from minor ports was accomplished by a 
fleet of 1 76 powered units constituting a 
service known as Harbor Craft, Alaskan 
Department. The main burden of this 
traffic was borne by thirteen small vessels 
operating on regular intratheater shuttle 
runs. Ocean-going tugs towing scows op- 
erated over the same routes for the move- 



^^' G-4 Per Rpt, Hq ADC, Initial Rpt, 10 Dec 42, p. 
7; Ltr, Col Barthrop, Supt ATS SPE, to CofT, 26 Apr 
43, sub: Tug and Barge Cons, OCT HB Alaskan Dept 
Fltg Equip. 

■'' Alaskan Dept Hist, Ch. X; Ltr, Henry L. Stim- 
son, SW, to Harold L. Ickes, Secy Interior, 25 Jan 43, 
OCT 545.4-56 1 . 1 Alaska 4 1 ; Denson address cited n. 
38; Responsibility for Maint and Repair ATS Harbor 
Craft and Mob Pier Equip, 27 Nov 43, a sheet atchd 
to corres in OCT HB Alaskan Dept Orgn of ATS; G-4 
Per Rpt, Hc| Alaskan Dept, qtr ending 31 Mar 45, p. 
23, AGOpns Rpts 319.1. 



ALASKA AND WESTERN CANADA 



53 



ment of the heavier types of cargo, and 
also on several shorter and less important 
runs. ' ' 

Rail Operations 

Although Alaska is one fifth the size of 
the continental United States, only two 
railroads were in regular operation in the 
Territory in 1940. One, the Alaska Rail- 
road, was the sole year-round transport 
facility in central Alaska. The other, the 
White Pass and Yukon Railroad, had only 
twenty-two miles of line actually in Alas- 
ka. Other rail lines were in existence, but 
had ceased operations. A small section of 
one of these, the Copper River and North- 
western Railroad, was taken over by the 
Army in the spring of 1942 and used to 
haul freight thirteen miles from the port 
of Cordova to the post and airfields.''^ 

The Alaska Railroad 

The Alaska Railroad was a standard- 
gauge line with approximately 470 miles 
of main-line track extending from Seward 
through Anchorage to Fairbanks, and 
about thirty miles of branch lines to the 
Matanuska valley and the Eska and Sun- 
trana coal regions. The railroad also op- 
erated docks at Seward and Anchorage, 
coal mines in the Eska region, and a river 
steamship line on the Tanana and Yukon 
rivers. Owned by the U.S. Government 
and operated by the Department of the 
Interior, the Alaska Railroad was headed 
by a general manager and manned by a 
force of approximately 900 civilian 
employees. 

Operated since 1923, the railroad's 
equipment was worn and its docks were in 
a state of disrepair. Track, laid with light 
seventy-pound rail, required constant 



maintenance. Operation of the southern 
end of the line, running through moun- 
tainous country, was made difficult by 
steep grades and heavy snows. Train 
speeds rarely exceeded fifteen miles an 
hour, and at mile fifty a tunnel and a 
rickety wooden-loop trestle made travel 
at any but minimum speed dangerous. To 
bypass the difficult southern section, work 
was begun in 1941 on a twelve-mile cut- 
off from Portage junction to Whittier, but 
construction, which involved the boring of 
two tunnels, progressed slowly.'' 

Despite its limitations, the Alaska Rail- 
road, with only minor structural improve- 
ments and small increases in equipment, 
was at first able to handle the increased 
traffic incident to the build-^up of the 
Anchorage-Fairbanks area. But heavy 
losses of workers, who were leaving to take 
other jobs, to return to the United States, 
or to enter military service, caused the 
railroad's track and equipment mainte- 
nance to fall seriously in arrears. Result- 
ing equipment failures and car shortages, 
coupled with increased water-borne traf- 
fic into Seward, created a bottleneck for 
northbound traffic in the winter of 
1942-43. 

To deal with this situation ADC, with 
the approval of the railroad's general 
manager, requested railway troops to 
augment the civilian force on the line. 
After a Military Railway Service (MRS) 
survey had confirmed the need, the Chief 
of Transportation in Washington arranged 
for the shipment of the 714th Railway 
Operating Battalion, augmented by five 
extra track maintenance platoons and 

'- G-4 Per Rpt, Hq Alaskan Dept, qtr ending 30 
Sep 45, p. 6, AG Opns Rpts 319.1. 

'■' ADC Trans Hist, Rpt I, Cordova. 

>' Rpt, Jesse E. Floyd, Alaska-Yukon, 23 Jul 42. 
OCT 463.7-523.06 Alaska 41-42; ADC Trans Hist, 
Rpt I, Rail; Alaskan Dept Hist, Ch. IX. 



54 



THE TRANSPORTATION CORPS 



stripped of certain technical personnel 
such as train dispatchers, telegraph oper- 
ators, and signal maintenance and lines- 
men.''^ The entire force of 25 officers and 
1,105 enlisted men arrived at Seward 
from Seattle on 3 April 1943. Headquar- 
ters was set up at Anchorage and disper- 
sion along the line begun. "' 

While responsible administratively to 
ADC headquarters, the battalion was 
under the operational control of the gen- 
eral manager of the Alaska Railroad. The 
railway troops assisted civilian workers on 
the four divisions of the main line, making 
possible considerable improvement in the 
line's maintenance and operation. The re- 
inforced maintenance of way company, 
aggregating 9 officers and 739 enlisted 
men, provided section help along the line, 
the troops receiving work instructions 
from civilian foremen through noncom- 
missioned officers. The railroad was as- 
sisted also by the transportation company, 
which provided twenty-five train crews, 
and the maintenance of equipment com- 
pany, which supplemented civilian work- 
ers at the main shop at Anchorage anjl at 
other shops along the line and later as- 
sumed operation of the new Army shops. 
The Army also augmented the railroad's 
equipment in modest fashion, bringing in 
seven locomotives, sixty-five freight cars, 
and a locomotive crane from the United 
States.^' 

The Portage-Whittier cutoff was pushed 
to completion by the Army engineers and 
civilian contractors, and on 1 June 1943 
the twelve-mile line was placed in opera- 
tion, along with new shop, rail yard, and 
dock facilities at Whittier. Aside from by- 
passing the difficult southern section of the 
main line, the cutoff shortened the rail 
distance to northern stations by fifty-two 
miles. Army freight was then routed 



through Whittier, leaving Seward to 
handle civilian freight. 

The provision of rail troops, the routing 
of Army tonnage through Whittier, and 
the small increases in equipment markedly 
improved the railroad's performance. In 
November 1943 the line hauled 66,000 
tons of revenue freight, as compared with 
36,302 tons in the previous January. Dur- 
ing the year the total revenue and non- 
revenue freight carried by the railroad 
amounted to 698,978 tons, almost 178,000 
tons more than the 1942 figure.''*' Deteri- 
oration of the line had been halted, and 
the Alaska Railroad had become a reli- 
able transport facility capable of meeting 
Army demands. 

In March 1944 the improved strategic 
situation in Alaska, together with de- 
mands for railway troops from active the- 
aters, led the Chief of Transportation in 
Washington to recommend the curtail- 
ment of Army assistance, but the railroad's 
inability to secure sufficient civilian per- 
sonnel made it necessary to retain the 
troops temporarily. The Alaska Railroad, 
with a combined civilian and military force 
of about 2,000, experienced its peak year 
of traffic during 1944, hauling 642,861 
tons of revenue freight. By April 1945 in- 
creases in the civilian force and declining 
traffic enabled the Alaskan Department to 



'''' Ltr, Ohlson to Abe Fortas, Under Secy Interior, 
28 Feb 43, OCT 617 Alaska 42; Rpt, Col Charles F. 
Dougherty, Actg Gen Mgr MRS, to CofT, 14 Mar 
43, sub: Alaska RR, OCT 617 Alaska 43; Memo, 
Gross to CG SOS, 14 Mar 43, sub: Pers to Maintain 
Equip and Right of Way on Alaska RR, OCT 3 1 9.2- 
320.2 Alaska 43. 

"' See ADC Trans Hist, Rpt IV, Tab, 7 14th ROB, 
upon which the discussion of the battalion's activities 
is based. 

■'" Memo, ACofS G-4 for TAG, 1 2 Aug 43, sub: G-4 
Per Rpt, ADC, for qtr ending 30 Jun 43, AG Opns 
Rpts 319.1, 12 Aug 43 (2). 

■'' For statistics subsequent to 1942, see ADC Trans 
I list Rpt I, and supplementary per rpts. 



ALASKA AND WESTERN CANADA 



55 



make the rail troops available for return to 
the United States. Except for one track 
maintenance platoon that stayed on until 
27 August, the battalion was relieved, 
departing Fort Richardson on 10 May. '*' 

The White Pass and Yukon Railroad 

The White Pass and Yukon Railroad 
was a narrow-gauge (thirty-six inch) rail- 
road extending 11 0.7 miles from Skagway 
to Whitehorse. The line was managed by 
a resident official representing three oper- 
ating companies, whose capital stock was 
owned by a British firm. Placed in service 
in 1901, the railroad had undergone little 
development. Equipment operating on the 
line in mid- 1 942 consisted of 9 locomotives, 
186 revenue freight cars, and 14 passenger 
cars, the majority of which were over 40 
years old. Track was laid with light 45 and 
46-pound rail, for the most part rolled be- 
fore 1900. Like the Alaska Railroad, the 
WP&Y owned and operated allied facili- 
ties, including the ocean dock at Skagway 
and a river steamship line out of White- 
horse.''" 

Operating with limited and antiquated 
equipment over a rugged route, the rail- 
road was unable to clear cargo laid down 
at Skagway, and by the fall of 1942 it was 
fast becoming a bottleneck in the flow of 
supplies into western Canada. At the 
direction of General Somervell, who had 
inspected the line in August, the railroad 
was leased by the Army, effective 1 Octo- 
ber 1942. By this time a railway detach- 
ment of 9 oflficers and 351 enlisted men 
had been activated and shipped from 
Seattle, and arrangements were being 
made to purchase and ship American rail 
equipment.''^ 

Engineer Railway Detachment 9646A 
arrived at Skagway in mid-September 



1942, set up its headquarters, and after a 
brief period of instruction took over the 
operation and maintenance of the rail- 
road. With the continued assistance of the 
civilian employees, the troops acted as 
mechanics, engineers, dispatchers, fire- 
men, conductors, telegraphers, section 
hands, brakemen, and track walkers. 
Upon the transfer of MRS from the Engi- 
neers to the Transportation Corps in No- 
vember 1942, the unit was redesignated 
the 770th Railway Operating Detach- 
ment, Transportation Corps."- 

Under military operation, the railroad 
carried 14,231 tons in October, about 
3,000 tons more than the previous month. 
It was expected that equipment scheduled 
for early arrival would further accelerate 
traffic, but severe winter weather struck 



" Memo, Gross for ACofS G-4, 3 Mar 44, sub: Opn 
by U.S. Army of Seward-Fairbanks RR, OCT 320.2 
Alaska Jan-Aug 44; Memo, Gen Lutes, Dir Plans and 
Opns ASF, for CofT, 23 Mar 44, same sub, and 
Memo, Brig Gen Stanley L. Scott, Dir Ping Div, for 
Actg Dir Plans and Opns ASF, 19 Apr 45, sub: Re- 
cruitment of Pers for Alaska RR. ASF Ping Div A47- 
192 Vol. 19 Alaska RR Alaska; Rpt, Year 1945, 7I4th 
Railway Operating Battalion, AG Opns Rpts TCBN- 
714-0.1 (30030) M Yr 1945. 

''" Except as otherwise cited, the account of opera- 
tions on the WP&Y route is based on the following: 
Rpt, Jesse E. Floyd, WP&Y Route, 16 Jun 42, OCT 
617 Alaska; Binder, Gottschalk Rpt, Hq NWSC and 
Off of Div Engr NW Div, Contl Br KCRC AGO; 
Richard L. Neuberger, Highballing at Sixty Below, 
ASF 65-2 Vol. 19 WP&Y RR NWSC; Memo, Col 
A. F. Mclntyre, Rail Div OCT, 23 Dec 43, sub: Rail 
Tonnage on WP&Y RR, OCT 47 1-595.01 Alaska 43; 
First Semi- Annual Progress Rpt, Jan 44, pp. 17-18, 
AG Opns Rpts 91-SC1-0.3 (1596) M. 2 Sep 42- 
1 Jan 44. 

'=' Memo, Gen Styer, CofS ASF, for CofEngrs, 22 
Aug 42, sub: Directive ... of CG SOS as a Result 
of His Inspection in Alaska, ASF 65-2 Vol. 19 
WP&Y RR NWSC; Rpt, Brig Gen Carl R. Gray, Jr., 
Gen Mgr MRS, to CofEngrs, 7 Sep 42, sub: Lease of 
WP&Y RR, OCT 420-463.6 Alaska 41-42. 

''- Rpts, Maj John E. Ausland, CO Engr Ry De- 
tachment 9646 A, to Gray, 20 Sep, 13 Oct 42, OCT 
319.1 WP&Y Weekly Rpt; 1st Ind, OCT to Gen Mgr 
MRS, 30 Dec 42, OCT 322.03 WP&Y Route. 



56 



THE TRANSPORTATION CORPS 



the area in December, and for a three- 
month period high snow drifts, ice, snow- 
sHdes, and sub-zero temperatures made the 
hne's operation and maintenance a night- 
mare. Rotary snowplows preceded all 
trains, but occasionally drifts were too 
high to cut through and trains were iso- 
lated. Ice on the rails resulted in frequent 
derailment of locomotives and cars, and 
when trains stopped they froze to the 
tracks. Traffic slowed to a trickle, and in 
December and again in February the line 
was completely immobilized for ten-day 
periods. 

While the troops were battling to keep 
the line in operation, plans were being 
made to increase the railroad's personnel 
and equipment. In view of increased 
Northwest Service Command estimates of 
supply requirements, a MRS survey was 
made in early 1943, following which the 
Transportation Corps undertook to pro- 
vide the additional troops, rolling stock, 
and motive power needed to handle 1,200 
tons daily by May. On 1 April the detach- 
ment was redesignated the 770th Railway 
Operating Battalion, with an authorized 
strength of 19 officers, 2 warrant officers, 
and 708 enlisted men. Technical supervi- 
sion of the railroad, previously exercised 
by MRS headquarters, was transferred to 
the Commanding General, NWSC'' 

As the weather moderated and addi- 
tional personnel and equipment were 
placed in service, rail operations improved. 
Traffic, virtually all northbound from 
Skagway to Whitehorse, climbed from 
5,568 tons in February to a peak of over 
40,000 tons in August. By the fall of 1943 
the backlog of freight at Skagway had 
been cleared and the railroad was hauling 
all tonnage offered. 

During the year 1943 the WP&Y car- 
ried 284,532 tons, more than ten times the 
traffic handled in 1939, and transported 



some 22,000 troops and civilian construc- 
tion workers to Whitehorse. The right of 
way had been improved, 25 locomotives 
and 284 freight cars had been added to the 
equipment, and night operations had been 
initiated. The entire responsibility for 
maintenance and operation rested with 
the 770th Railway Operating Battalion, 
assisted by about 150 civilians. 

The second arctic winter experienced 
by the rail troops again curtailed train 
operation, but demands for tonnage were 
now diminishing. Although a significant 
southbound movement from Whitehorse 
to Skagway developed in the summer and 
fall of 1944 as construction forces evacu- 
ated their men and equipment, it was in- 
sufficient to offset the decline in north- 
bound traffic. The battalion was reduced 
in strength during the summer, and in 
November the bulk of the troops returned 
to the United States. Remaining rail activ- 
ities were consolidated with port opera- 
tions at Skagway, and the 330 military 
and 120 civilian personnel involved were 
placed under an Army general superin- 
tendent. The railroad was returned to 
civilian management in December 1944, 
and arrangements were made for the 
evacuation of equipment and the recruit- 
ing of civilian workers to replace the 
troops.''* 



'■' Ltr, Gross to ACofS for Opns SOS, 26 Feb 43, 
sub: Ry Opn Over WP&Y Route and Northern 
Alberta Rys to Supply NWSC, OCT 617 Alaska; Ltr, 
TAG to CG NWSC 'et al., 27 May 43, sub: Redesig- 
nation and Reorgn of 770th Ry Operating Detach- 
ment TC, Hq NWSC and Office of Div Engr NW 
Div, AG Sec 320.2 770th Ry Bn, KCRC AGO; Ltr, 
Dougherty to CG NWSC, 19 Mar 43, sub: Tech 
Supervision of WP&Y Route . . ., OCT 61 7 Alaska. 

•" Memo, Brig Gen Walter A. Wood, Jr., Dcp Dir 
Plans and Opns ASF, for ACoiS OPD, 22 Apr 44, sub: 
Reduction of Pers 770th Ry Operating Bn, ASF 65-2 
Vol. 19 WP&Y RR NWSC; Plan of Opn for Return 
of WP&Y to Civ Opn, 16 Sep 44, Hq NWSC and 
Office of Div Engr NW Div, Contl Br WP&Y Ry, 
KCRC AGO; NWSC MPR, Dec 44, p. 7, DRB AGO. 



ALASKA AND WESTERN CANADA 



57 



Motor Transport Operations 

Alaska possessed few highways and 
lacked land communications with the rest 
of the continent at the outbreak of war. 
The road system within the Territory had 
undergone little development, much of the 
population in the interior being served by 
river during the brief summer season. In 
1940 there were only 2,212 miles of road 
suitable for automobile traffic. These high- 
ways, concentrated largely in central 
Alaska, were unpaved, limited in capacity, 
and subject to seasonal interruptions. Con- 
sequently, Army motor transport activities 
within the Territory, other than those in- 
volved in local post supply, were minor. 

77?^ Richardson Highway 

The principal prewar Alaskan road was 
the Richardson Highway, leading 371 
miles northward from Valdez to Fairbanks 
over a route generally paralleling the 
Alaska Railroad. At Fairbanks the road 
joined the Steese Highway, which ex- 
tended 162 miles to Circle. The Richard- 
son Highway net was extended by the 
Army during 1942 through the comple- 
tion of two branch roads. One, the 147.5- 
mile Glenn Highway connecting Palmer 
with the Richardson Highway below Gul- 
kana, made possible diversion of some 
freight from the Alaska Railroad. The 
other, the 138-mile Tok Junction-Slana 
cutoff extending from four miles above 
Gulkana to Tok Junction on the Alaska 
Highway, reduced the trip from Valdez to 
Tanacross and Northway airfields by about 
a hundred miles. 

Since snow and ice blocked the moun- 
tainous southern section of the Richardson 
Highway from mid-October to June, the 
road was open only 120 days in the year. 
During the 1942 open season, Army motor 



transport operations on the highway and 
its branches were performed by two Quar- 
termaster truck companies and by com- 
mercial contract haulers. Operating prin- 
cipally out of Valdez, eighty 2 '/2-ton Army 
trucks and sixty 5-ton commercial trucks 
delivered about 26,000 tons to Gulkana, 
Fairbanks, and the airfields at Big Delta, 
Tanacross, and Northway. During the 
winter, movement halted with the excep- 
tion of a trickle of supplies delivered from 
the Fairbanks railhead. 

The two Quartermaster truck units, 
again assisted by civilian carriers, resumed 
active operations in May 1943. This time, 
in addition to the supply of its own stations, 
ADC was asked to receive and deliver 
through Valdez supplies for NWSC forces 
on the Alaska Highway. Tonnage figures 
for the 1943 season are incomplete, but 
available data indicate that the deliveries 
did not greatly exceed those of 1942. 
Thereafter, the Richardson Highway lost 
its military importance. Valdez was placed 
on a caretaker basis in the winter of 
1943-44, and the continued supply of the 
northern airfields on the Alaska Highway 
was accomplished by commercial truckers 
hauling from the Fairbanks railhead.''^ 

The Alaska Highway 

The Alaska Highway extends north- 
westward from the Dawson Creek railhead 
in British Columbia through the Yukon to 
Big Delta, Alaska, where it joins the Rich- 
ardson Highway, which provides the final 
ninety-five mile link to Fairbanks. (Map 1) 
The route crosses plains, mountains, and 
forests, traversing large areas covered with 
muskeg, a mosslike vegetation forming a 

«^ Alaskan Dept Hist, Ch. VIII, pp. 254-63; ADC 
Trans Hist, Rpt I, Highways, and Rpt II, Highways; 
Nickell Ltr cited n. 19; G-4 Per Rpt, Hq Alaskan 
Dept. qtr ending 30 Sep 45, p. 7, AG Opns Rpts 319.1. 



ALASKA AND WESTERN CANADA 



59 



hard surface in winter, but causing the 
ground to become soggy and swampy 
during the spring thaw. As finally com- 
pleted, the Alaska Highway was an all- 
weather, gravel-surfaced road 1 ,428 miles 
long and averaging twenty-six feet in 
width.'''' 

Although the Alaska Highway was a 
product of the war emergency, the idea of 
a land link between the United States and 
Alaska was by no means new. Proposals 
for the construction of a highway were 
made in the prewar years, but these had 
consistently received a negative response 
from the War Department, which believed 
that such a project would have little mili- 
tary value. As the international situation 
worsened in the fall of 1941, the General 
Staff modified its policy slightly, recogniz- 
ing the desirability of a highway as a long- 
range defense measure, provided it did not 
interfere with more pressing military 
requirements. 

Shortly after Pearl Harbor the War De- 
partment's attitude shifted to one of active 
support. This change was based on two 
main considerations. First, a highway to 
Alaska, if located along the airway placed 
under development in the winter of 
1940-41, would facilitate the latter's sup- 
ply and expansion; second, the highway 
would provide an alternate land route in 
the event of enemy interference with the 
sea lanes to Alaska.''' Upon the recom- 
mendation of a Cabinet committee and 
Army representatives, the highway project 
was approved on 1 1 February 1942 by the 
President, who authorized construction to 
begin at once. 

Construction, begun in the early spring, 
progressed rapidly. By 25 October 1942 
Army Engineer troops, with substantial 
assistance from the Public Roads Admin- 
istration (PRA), had completed a pioneer 



road passable from Dawson Creek to Fair- 
banks. After maintaining the highway 
through the greater part of the ensuing 
winter. Engineer troops were withdrawn, 
leaving PRA civilian contractors to im- 
prove the road to an all-weather highway 
and complete it to approved standards. 

As the pioneer road neared completion 
in the fall of 1942, Services of Supply 
headquarters in Washington exhibited 
considerable interest in establishing truck- 
ing operations that would make possible 
large-scale deliveries to Alaska as well as 
the supply of airfields and construction 
and service forces along the route. Al- 
though original plans for the Alaska High- 
way did not contemplate its use as a supply 
line to Alaska unless the sea lanes were 
cut, the shipping shortage, increasing ADC 
supply requirements, and the possibility 
that Alaska might be developed as an 
overland route to Siberia lent new empha- 
sis to such a project. Plans proposed in 
August and September called for ten 
Quartermaster truck regiments and 1 ,400 
10-ton trucks to begin operations about 
1 December 1942, carrying 1,000 tons a 
day out of Dawson Creek and delivering 

^^ Except as otherwise noted, the discussion of the 
Alaska Highway is based on the following: ASF Contl 
Div Rpt 175 cited n. 4; Rpt, Capt Theodore P. 
Petropoulos, Adj Hq Alaska Hwy, Historical Data, 
Alaska Military Highway, 15 Feb 44, Hq NWSC and 
Off of Div Engr NW Div 314.7 Alaska Hwy, KCRG 
AGO; Pamphlet, Public Relations Br NWSC. The 
Alaska Highway, OCMH Files; NWSC First Semi- 
Annual Rpt, Jan 44, AG Opns Rpts 91 -SCI -0.3 
(1596) M, 2 Sep42-Jan44; Binder, Gottschalk Rpt, 
Hq NWSC and Office of Div Engr NW Div, Contl Br, 
KCRG AGO. For statistics on freight movements over 
the Alaska Highway, January 1943-May 1945, see 
ASF Contl Div Rpt 175 cited n. 4. Exhibit S, and 
NWSC MPRs in DRB AGO. 

'"' Memos, Brig Gen Leonard T. Gerow, ACofS, for 
CofS, 19Jan 42, sub; Status of Alaska Hwy in WD, 
and 23 Jan 42, sub: Construction of Hwy Between US 
and Alaska, WPD 4327-21 through 4327-31. For a 
more detailed discussion, see Conn and Fairchild. The 
Framework of Hemisphere Defense, Ch. XIV. 



60 



THE TRANSPORTATION CORPS 



600 tons daily to Fairbanks. With the 
spring thaw, supply movements other than 
those required by construction forces 
would be halted until the summer of 1943, 
when operations would be resumed and 
expanded. The Commanding General, 
NWSC, in October 1942 estimated that 
the highway would be able to carry 
200,000 tons a month by December 1943, 
providing suitable equipment and person- 
nel were made available. He also recom- 
mended construction of a feeder road of 
200,000 tons monthly capacity linking 
Haines, on the Inside Passage, with the 
Alaska Highway. This project was ap- 
proved by the War Department, and work 
was put in hand early in 1943.''^ 

Prospects for large-scale motor transport 
operations, however, were soon dimmed. 
The 10-ton trucks could not be provided 
in quantity; instead. Services of Supply 
(SOS) in September 1942 authorized the 
shipment of 1,400 2V2-ton to 5-ton trucks 
and such heavier vehicles as were avail- 
able under established priorities. At about 
the same time, the Army's Operations 
Division (OPD) decided that the situation 
in Alaska was not sufficiently urgent to 
justify exceeding the current troop basis 
by activating the ten truck regiments re- 
quested by SOS. By November, OPD cut 
the number of truck regiments to be as- 
signed to four, and in January 1943 the 
force was reduced finally to one over- 
strength regiment."" 

These developments were influenced by 
a changing strategic and logistic situation. 
By early 1943 the shipping shortage had 
eased and plans for the use of Alaska as an 
overland supply route to Siberia or for 
offensive operations west of the Aleutians 
were fast fading. Moreover, the westward 
shift of strength in Alaska caused the high- 
way to lose much of its potential impor- 



tance, for even if the Alaska Highway 
could deliver all or most of the supplies 
needed by the forces in Alaska, it would 
still be necessary to move them by rail 
from Fairbanks to Seward or Whittier for 
onward shipment to stations in the Aleu- 
tians, on the Alaska Peninsula, or on the 
west coast of Alaska. In the end, the idea 
of supplying Alaska by highway was aban- 
doned. According to the Deputy Com- 
mander, ADC, only fifty-four tons had 
been delivered to his command by motor 
transport by the fall of 1943.'" Although 
the substantial completion of the road as 
an all-weather highway in October of that 
year made possible significant deliveries to 
the Alaskan Command, the curtailment of 
troop strength in Alaska and the continued 
availability of the more economical water 
route made such operations unnecessary. 
Throughout the war, the Alaska Highway 
was used primarily for the supply of the 
military and civilian construction forces 
and the airfields and other installations 
along the route, both in Alaska and in 
western Canada. 

The first motor transport operations on 



«** Memo, Gen Lutes, ACofS for Opns SOS, for 
ACofS G-3, 26 Aug 42, and Memo, Brig Gen Ray- 
mond G. Moses, ACofS G-4, for ACofS G-3, 3 Sep 42, 
sub: Activation of QM Tructc Regts for Alcan Hwy, 
OPD 320.2 ADC Sec IV Cases 143-206; Memo, 
O'Connor for ACofS for Material, 23 Sep 42, OCT 
569.2-616.4 Alaska 43; Memo, Styer for ACofS OPD, 
6Jun 44, sub: Haines Mil Rd, OPD 61 1 Alaska Sec II 
Cases 42-59; O'Connor rpt cited n. 7. 

'■" Memo, Activation of QM Truck Regts for Alcan 
Hwy, Gen Handy, ACofS, 5 Sep 42, OPD 320.2 ADC 
Sec IV Cases 143-206; Memos, Styer for ACofS for 
Material SOS, 23 Sep 42, and Gross for Somervell, 1 
Nov 42, sub: Sup via Alaska Hwy, OCT 569.7-616.4 
Alaska 43; Transcript of Phone Conversation, Incl to 
Memo, Col Henry J. Woodbury, CE, for O'Connor, 6 
Jan 43, and Office of Div Engr NW Div, AG Sec 
322 QM Truck Regt and Sup Troop Recjuests for 
Alaska Hwy, KCRC AGO. 

"" See Whittakcr lecture cited n. 6. 



ALASKA AND WESTERN CANADA 



61 



the Alaska Highway involved the hauling 
of supplies and equipment for construction 
forces by organizational vehicles supple- 
mented by four Quartermaster truck com- 
panies and civilian ton-mile contractors. 
As Army trucks began arriving in cjuantity 
at the Dawson Creek railhead in the fall of 
1942, motor transport was placed on an 
organized basis. Beginning on 1 October 
three trucks a day, loaded with construc- 
tion materials, started on pilot runs from 
Dawson Creek to Whitehorse over the un- 
completed highway. During the month an 
Engineer officer was appointed Officer-in- 
Charge, Fairbanks Freight and Alcan 
Highway Operations, and was responsible 
for highway construction as well as motor 
transport. 

To expedite cargo deliveries and prevent 
freezing, the trucks were kept moving day 
and night. Relay stations where new 
drivers could take over and vehicles could 
be serviced were set up from 27 to 60 miles 
apart, depending on road conditions. Sta- 
tions were manned and trucks operated by 
troops provided by Engineer regiments 
along the road. Repair shops were placed 
under construction and a system of con- 
trolled dispatching was instituted. In No- 
vember approximately 1,000 trucks were 
dispatched from Dawson Creek, 350 of 
them moving to Whitehorse. On 19 No- 
vember, the day before the official opening 
of the highway, the first convoy dispatched 
from Dawson Creek for Fairbanks left 
Whitehorse. It arrived at its destination 
two days later with supplies for Ladd 
Field. With the onset of bitter winter 
weather in December, however, only emer- 
gency vehicles carrying essential freight 
were moved. Inadequate housing and 
maintenance facilities and rough roads 
caused personnel severe hardships and 
deadlined a large number of vehicles. 



In January 1943 Northwest Service 
Command established a separate Alaska 
Highway headquarters at Whitehorse to 
take over the operation and maintenance 
of vehicles on the highway, other than 
organizational equipment and that used 
by the chief of the Engineer Division and 
his contractors. Other assigned functions 
included the policing and patrolling of the 
highway and the distribution of petroleum 
products other than aviation gasoline. Col. 
Joseph R Glandon, QMC, assumed com- 
mand in February, moving his headquar- 
ters to Dawson Creek, where the largest 
volume of supplies had accumulated. 
Under Alaska Highway headquarters 
there shortly developed three divisions, 
one each based on the Dawson Creek, 
Whitehorse, and Fairbanks railheads. 
Each division headquarters was responsi- 
ble for activities over about one third of 
the highway, with Colonel Glandon exer- 
cising over-all command and co-ordinat- 
ing movements between divisions. 

To carry out its mission, Alaska High- 
way headquarters was assigned one over- 
strength Quartermaster truck regiment, 
the 477th, with approximately 4,000 offi- 
cers and enlisted men. Arriving at Dawson 
Creek in January 1943, the regiment 
moved out along the route by truck to re- 
lay and way stations, which by the end of 
March were spread one hundred miles 
apart. During this period several medium 
and heavy automotive maintenance units 
were placed at terminal points at Dawson 
Creek, Whitehorse, and Fairbanks, and 
other personnel were assigned to police 
and patrol the highway and to store, issue, 
and distribute petroleum products. 

Alaska Highway headquarters retained 
the relay system, whereby trucks moved 
continuously from dispatch point to desti- 
nation. Each relay station was normally 



62 



THE TRANSPORTATION CORPS 



manned by a company or detachment of 
the 477th Truck Regiment. Drivers oper- 
ated vehicles from one station to another, 
where new drivers were assigned and the 
original drivers, after rest, took returning 
vehicles to their home stations. Relay sta- 
tions were provided with facilities for 
housing, messing, medical care, and vehi- 
cle servicing and maintenance. Trucks 
requiring major repairs were evacuated to 
the nearest shops or handled by Ordnance 
contact parties. Vehicle control was 
effected through daily flow reports from 
relay and way stations to their respective 
division headquarters, which consolidated 
them and reported daily to Alaska High- 
way headquarters. Division headquarters 
received requests for cargo from all organ- 
izations served by the road, set up priori- 
ties, and allotted tonnages. 

The establishment of Alaska Highway 
headquarters and the assignment of the 
truck regiment did not bring an immedi- 
ate improvement in operations. Severe 
winter weather, persisting into March 
1943, and delays in erecting housing and 
maintenance facilities because of the shift- 
ing of station sites inflicted severe hard- 
ships on both men and equipment. The 
WP&Y Railroad serving Whitehorse, was 
literally frozen in, and the rail line serving 
Dawson Creek was heavily congested. As 
a result, vehicles under the control of 
Alaska Highway headquarters in the first 
three months of 1943 carried only 7,500 
tons of military supplies and a smaller 
tonnage destined for civilian construction 
contractors. By April the rail situation had 
cleared, but heavy rains and thaws made 
through traffic impossible. In that month 
the last convoy to be dispatched from 
Dawson Creek to Fairbanks until the fall 
of the year departed, and traffic was lim- 
ited to deliveries to construction and serv- 



ice forces and airfields along the open 
portions of the road. 

In June road conditions were sufficiently 
improved to permit more extensive opera- 
tions. Army vehicles supplemented by 
trucks leased by Alaska Highway head- 
quarters from civilian firms increased their 
deliveries to Army and Air Forces installa- 
tions and to civilian contractors working 
on Army projects from about 3,900 tons in 
May 1943 to a peak of over 26,000 tons in 
September. In addition, passenger, ex- 
press, and mail services were instituted, 
which by the latter part of the year were 
in operation over the entire route between 
Dawson Creek and Fairbanks. The better 
driving conditions, which resulted as the 
all-weather road neared completion in 
October 1943, made it possible to double 
driving distances. Relay stations were 
spread 200 miles apart, with way stations 
between them. At that time over 1,500 
cargo trucks, of from 2V2-ton to 10-ton 
capacity, and 250 service and passenger 
vehicles were operating under the direct 
control of Alaska Highway headquarters, 
hauling over the entire length of the high- 
way, and over feeder roads reaching into 
Haines, Norman Wells, and Valdez. 

During 1943 Army vehicles operated by 
Quartermaster troops under Alaska High- 
way headquarters hauled approximately 
134,000 tons about 40,000,000 ton-miles 
for the Army, the Air Forces, and civilian 
construction forces along the highway. 
Other accomplishments included the 
transport of 41,876 passengers, the express 
delivery of some 3,000 tons of high priority 
and pilferable supplies, and the hauling of 
1,483,870 pounds of mail. These statistics 
do not reflect the total traffic on the road, 
for there were approximately 17,000 gov- 
ernment and civilian contractor trucks 
and several hundred commercial vehicles 



ALASKA AND WESTERN CANADA 



63 



on the highway at the height of operations. 
Classification, registration, and traffic con- 
trol of these vehicles constituted a major 
function of Alaska Highway headquarters. 
Contractor and commercial trucks hauled 
much of the construction materials on the 
road, carrying an estimated 200,000 tons 
in the six months ending 30 November 
1943. 

As construction projects were completed 
and moved into the maintenance phase in 
the winter of 1943-44, traffic on the 
Alaska Highway fell off sharply and the 
motor transport organization underwent 
progressive reduction. In December 1943 
the 477th Quartermaster Truck Regiment 
was disbanded, its overhead and excess 
operating personnel were reassigned, and 
the remaining troops were assigned directly 
to the Commanding Officer, Alaska High- 
way. As part of the general curtailment of 
NWSC operations that followed, Alaska 
Highway headquarters was itself inacti- 
vated on 1 March 1944, and its personnel, 
equipment, and property were transferred 
to district headquarters at Dawson Creek, 
Whitehorse, and Fairbanks, which had 
recently been established in order to com- 
bine activities, curtail operations, and re- 
duce personnel within their territories. 
Steps were also taken to arrange for the 
continued supply of airfields and main- 
tenance forces through the maximum pos- 
sible use of commercial carriers.'^ 

From this point on, motor transport op- 
erations were conducted on a decentral- 
ized basis under the central freight cargo 
control of NWSC headquarters. In June 
1944 the Fairbanks District was inacti- 
vated, and operations on that portion of 
the highway in Alaska were transferred to 
the Alaskan Department. Traffic between 
Fairbanks and the Canadian border was 
then handled by commercial traffic serv- 



ice arranged for by the Alaskan Depart- 
ment, while NWSC had similar service 
between Dawson Creek and the Alaska- 
Canadian border. The services over- 
lapped, permitting movements, without 
transferring cargo, from Fairbanks to 
Whitehorse, or from Whitehorse to Fair- 
banks.'" By this time evacuation of con- 
struction forces was well under way, and 
most road movements involved short hauls 
within the districts. Construction opera- 
tions in western Canada had virtually 
ceased by the end of 1944, and no tonnage 
was hauled for this purpose thereafter. 

At the war's end, little traffic was mov- 
ing over the road and arrangements were 
made for the transfer of the Canadian por- 
tion of the highway to Canada, effective 
1 April 1946. Although the Alaska High- 
way had contributed little to the supply of 
Alaska, it had made possible the construc- 
tion and supply of staging airfields, com- 
munications facilities, and distribution 
pipelines along the route and provided a 
margin of safety in the event the sea lanes 
should be cut. At best, hauling by road to 
Alaska would have been uneconomical 
when compared with sea transport. In 
1945 it was estimated that the highway, if 
operated at peak capacity, could deliver 
700,000 to 720,000 tons a year to Fair- 
banks for the support of approximately 
100,000 troops in Alaska. To handle this 
traffic a truck-operating and highway 



"1 Ltr, Maj B. B. Miller, AG NWSC, to CO 477th 
QM Truck Regt, 28 Dec 43, sub: Disbandment of 
477th QM Truck Regt Hq NWSC and Office of Div 
Engr NW Div, AG Sec 322, 477th QM Truck Regt; 
Ltr, Somervell to CG NWSC, 10 Feb 44, sub: Curtail- 
ment of Opns and Reduction of Pers and Equip in 
NWSC, ASF 65-6 Vol. I Policy File NWSC; GO 1 1, 
Hq NWSC, 20 Feb 44, Hq NWSC and Office of Div 
Engr NW Div, AG Sec 323.3 Alaska Hwy, KCRC 
AGO. 

■- Binder, Trans Plan (Tentative), NWSC, to 
become effective 1 Oct 44, p. 4, OCT HB NWSC. 



64 



THE TRANSPORTATION CORPS 



maintenance force of 135,000 men and 
13,000 to 14,000 trucks of 8-ton capacity 
would be required. It was clear that, bar- 
ring an unforeseen emergency, Alaska 
would continue to rely on water transport 
for its supply. 

Tractor-Train Operation 

The absence of roads except in central 
Alaska caused most locations in the in- 
terior to rely on the inland waterways and 
air transport for their supply. During the 
winter months, October to May, when the 
rivers were frozen, there was limited haul- 
ing into the interior by dog team, pack 
train, and tractor train. The Army became 
interested in the possibilities of extended 
tractor-train hauling first while studying 
alternate routes to the interior and west 
coast stations for use in the event the 
Bering Sea or the Gulf of Alaska was lost, 
and later in considering plans for develop- 
ing an overland route across Alaska to 
supply the Soviet Union via Siberia. 

The idea of utilizing tractor trains was 
an attractive one. They were a flexible 
means of transport, less vulnerable than 
those operating over fixed routes, and re- 
quired a minimum of construction. Sleds 
drawn by caterpillar tractors could travel 
over frozen rivers and lakes or overland 
on winter roads built by brushing out 
trails and reducing steep grades. During 
1942 plans were drawn up for the estab- 
lishment of inland water and winter road 
routes extending from Whitehorse to Fair- 
banks and from Fairbanks to the west 
coast of Alaska, but their development 
proved unnecessary. Although the pos- 
sibilities of tractor trains continued to be 
explored by the Army, their operation in 
Alaska was limited to relatively short 
emergency hauls and to situations where 



needed supplies could not be delivered by 
river craft during the summer season. ^^ 

The only tractor-train operation of con- 
sequence undertaken in western Canada 
involved the movement to Norman Wells 
of Canol supplies and equipment left un- 
delivered at the close of the 1942 naviga- 
tion season on the Mackenzie River sys- 
tem. Since rough and treacherous ice 
made the use of tractor trains on the frozen 
rivers and lakes inadvisable, civilian con- 
tractors and Army Engineer troops in the 
winter of 1942-43 pushed through a 
1,000-mile winter road (Grimshaw Road) 
from Norman Wells to the Peace River 
railhead in Alberta, and built feeder roads 
into Fort Smith and Fort Simpson, along 
the river route, and Fort Nelson on the 
Alaska Highway. 

Tractor-drawn sled trains were placed 
in use, but experience soon proved them 
unsatisfactory. The trains could not ne- 
gotiate grades of 5 percent or more and 
had to be broken up at these points, while 
in other places the lack of snow impeded 
the use of sleds. Motor trucks were then 
substituted, ultimately handling 60 per- 
cent of the total tonnage carried over the 
road. The winter road operation failed to 
accomplish its full mission. Of the 18,222 
tons shipped north from Peace River in 
the winter of 1942-43, only 5,293 tons 
were delivered to Norman Wells. A total 
of 3,567 tons was consumed in operation 
and the balance had to be left along the 
route to be picked up by boat when navi- 
gation was resumed. After the spring 

'■' Rpt, Lt Col J. H. Leavell, Hauling Freight by 
Tractors and Sleds in Alaska . . ., 15 Jul 42; Memo 
for Red, Lt Col J. R. Worthington, TC, 14 Jan 43, 
sub: Sup Routes iii Alaska; Rpt, 1st Lt A. L. Pranser, 
CE, Tractor Train Operations in Arctic and Sub- 
Arctic Regions, 1 Apr 44. All in OCT HB Alaska. 
See also Memo, Gross for Somervell, 10 Sep 42, sub: 
NW Route via Alaska-Siberia, OCT 370.5 Russia, 
Route via Alaska and Siberia. 



ALASKA AND WESTERN CANADA 



65 



break-up of 1943, the winter roads were 
abandoned.' ' 

River Transportation 

Like tractor-train hauling, river trans- 
portation was the subject of much plan- 
ning but only limited development. The 
only inland waterways used to any extent 
by the Army were the Yukon-Tanana river 
route, the Kuskokwim River, and the 
Mackenzie River system in western Can- 
ada. The Yukon-Tanana route became 
important in Army operations with the 
establishment of an air base at Galena, 
approximately 225 miles downstream 
from the Nenana railhead. During the 
1942 and 1943 open seasons, deliveries to 
Galena were made by the Alaska Rail- 
road's River steamship line, which since 
1923 had been operating from Nenana on 
the Tanana River to Ruby and Marshall 
on the Yukon. 

Operations were considerably expanded 
after the 1944 spring floods in the lower 
Yukon washed out the Galena air base. 
To meet the emergency, the Superintend- 
ent, ATS, contracted for the services of all 
available private craft in the area and 
diverted floating equipment from south- 
eastern Alaska to augment the three an- 
tiquated stern-wheel steamers and seven 
barges owned by the Alaska Railroad. 
River ports were established at Nenana 
and Galena and details were assigned to 
build rafts to carry packaged fuels down- 
stream. During the 1944 season 31,500 
tons, almost triple the 1943 traffic, were 
moved by river steamers, tugs, small boats, 
barges, and rafts. The air base was again 
inundated in 1945, and once more a river 
fleet was assembled, this time to move ap- 
proximately 50,000 tons of supplies and 
equipment between Nenana and Galena. 



The Kuskokwim River provided access 
from the port of Bethel to the McGrath 
garrison and airfield, 250 miles upstream. 
During the summer of 1942 the Morrison- 
Knudsen Company, a civilian contractor 
firm then constructing airfields at Bethel 
and McGrath, chartered the equipment 
of the Alaska Navigation Company, which 
carried 1 1,500 tons of Army and commer- 
cial freight from Bethel to McGrath by 
the season's end. To clear a backlog of 
Army cargo remaining at Bethel, the ATS 
requisitioned sufficient floating equipment 
to increase the line's capacity to 20,000 
tons. But the craft so provided proved un- 
suitable for operation in the shallow, swift 
waters of the Kuskokwim. The two river 
boats and six barges operated by ATS 
hauled only 2,000 tons of Army supplies 
during the 1943 season, while Morrison- 
Knudsen's two old stern wheelers — tow- 
ing barges — carried 10,500 tons. During 
the 1944 season McGrath was evacuated 
and approximately 3,300 tons of excess 
supplies and equipment were carried 
downstream to Bethel by the Alaska 
Navigation Company, under contract 
with the Army, for transshipment to other 
points in Alaska.' 

The Mackenzie River system was one 
of the basic supply routes for Canol. All 
equipment and material for the Norman 
Wells oil field development and for the 
construction of the eastern half of the 
crude oil pipeline from Norman Wells to 



'^ Canol Project rpt cited n. 4, pp. 85-90; ASF 
Contl Div Rpt 175 cited n. 4, Exhibit I. 

■■' The discussion of the Tanana-Yukon and 
Kuskokwim river operations is based on the follow- 
ing: ADC Trans Hist, Rpt I, River Transportation, 
Rpt II, River Transportation, Rpt VI, Data Pertain- 
ing to River Operations; Alaskan Dept Hist, Ch. XII; 
Nickell Ltr cited n. 2 1 ; G-4 Per Rpt, Hq Alaskan 
Dept, qtr ending 30 Jun 45, p. 6, qtr ending 30 Sep 
45, p. 7, AG Opns Rpts 319.1. 



66 



THE TRANSPORTATION CORPS 



Whitehorse had to be transported to job 
sites via this inland waterway. The river 
route, open about 135 days a year between 
May and October, extended northward 
1,200 miles from the railhead at Water- 
ways, Alberta, to Norman Wells, North- 
west Territories, via Great Slave Lake and 
the Mackenzie River. 

In the spring of 1942 the Army and its 
contractors set up 55,000 tons for delivery 
to Norman Wells during the coming river 
navigation season. In preparation for this 
movement, the War Department created 
a task force of approximately 2,500 service 
troops who, together with civilian person- 
nel of the construction contractor, were 
assigned to handle the transportation of 
construction equipment and materials 
from Waterways to Norman Wells. Ar- 
rangements were made for the charter of 
commercial facilities along the route, 
which would be supplemented by Army 
equipment. As Canol freight began mov- 
ing into the Waterways railhead in volume 
late in May, river transportation opera- 
tions were begun. 

The planned tonnage was not delivered 
to Norman Wells by the end of the 1942 
season. The commercial facilities were in- 
sufficient and the brief open season limited 
craft to three round trips. Operations were 
also hampered by the 16-mile portage be- 
tween Forts Fitzgerald and Smith on the 
Slave River and the storms on Great Slave 
Lake that made impossible the use of 
Engineers' ponton equipment and re- 
stricted traffic to heavy barges. By the end 
of June only 5,450 of the 55,000 tons re- 
quired at Norman Wells had been dis- 
patched northward from Waterways. To 
deal with this situation, the Army in- 
structed the civilian contractor to build 
or assemble additional heavy barges, but 



the open season ended before construction 
was completed, leaving much of the re- 
quired materials undelivered. This delay, 
plus the failure of ensuing winter road op- 
erations, set the entire project back a year. 

In an eflfort to improve operations dur- 
ing the coming season, the Army in Feb- 
ruary 1943 contracted for the services of 
Marine Operators, an experienced civilian 
river transport firm, to operate govern- 
ment-owned floating equipment and to 
subcontract the services of all other pri- 
vate operators on the river system. Marine 
Operators moved personnel in to take over 
direction of the project and gradually to 
replace the troops engaged in the work. 
The evacuation of the Army task force 
was begun in the summer of 1943 and 
completed in September. The equipment 
was greatly augmented during this period, 
and by the end of the 1943 season 157 
barges with a total capacity of about 20,- 
000 tons had been assembled or built and 
65 river boats had been purchased. 

Under Marine Operators, 32,230 tons 
were transported out of Waterways and 
19,060 tons were carried from various 
river points to Canol and Norman Wells 
or intermediate points below Fort Smith. 
At the close of the 1943 season, practically 
all materials awaiting shipment had 
been cleared. The small amount of critical 
materials remaining at Waterways and 
Fort Smith was flown to its destination. 
Floating equipment was removed from the 
water and placed on skidways above the 
level of high water and ice at Waterways, 
Fort Fitzgerald, Fort Smith, and Canol. 
Since only a limited volume of supplies 
was scheduled to move into Norman Wells 
in 1944, preparations were made to sal- 
vage or otherwise dispose of equipment 
and to arrange with commercial operators 



ALASKA AND WESTERN CANADA 



67 



on the river system to handle the necessary 
traffic."'^ 

According to the Transportation Offi- 
cer, NWSC, the 1944 operations on the 
Mackenzie River system, like those of the 
two previous years, suffered from "a lack 
of comprehensive transportation plan- 
ning." Plans, developed in late 1943, did 
not provide for the exploitation of the 
Canol Road, which was completed in De- 
cember of that year and could have been 
used during the winter to relieve the bur- 
den on river transport during the open 
season. Also, insufficient cargo was on 
hand in the spring of 1944 to permit full 
use of barges as they became available. 
On the positive side, tote boxes of 5-ton to 
10-ton capacity were constructed at 
Waterways and were handled by cranes, 
thereby expediting loading and unloading 
operations. The use of these boxes also ex- 
pedited the movement across the portage 
at Fort Smith. During the operation, too, 
tug boats were cut into sections and 
hauled by rail to Waterways, where they 
were welded together and used on the 
Mackenzie River system. At the close of 
the project, the tugs were again cut apart 
and evacuated. 

Realizing the importance of long-range 
planning for the supply of isolated arctic 
installations. Brig. Gen. Frederick S. 
Strong, Jr., in the late summer of 1944 as- 
signed his transportation officer respon- 
sibility for planning for the logistical sup- 
port of Norman Wells during the 1945 
open season. Plans were developed that 
called for the shipment of supplies over 
the Canol Road during the winter months, 
for the advance delivery to Waterways 
of material to be moved over the Macken- 
zie system, and for shipwrights to be flown 
into barge and tug boat sites along the 



route during the winter to prepare the 
craft for the 1945 operation. Implementa- 
tion of the plan was made unnecessary by 
the decision to abandon the Canol project. 
However, from the standpoint of any 
future subarctic operations, the experience 
demonstrated the need for adequate ad- 
vance planning that would take cog- 
nizance of the vagaries of the climate and 
provide for maximum exploitation of 
available means of transportation as the 
opportunity arose.'" 

Alaskan Transportation — Post- V-J Day 

The war's end found Army transporta- 
tion to and within Alaska geared to serve 
small air and ground forces concentrated 
in two main defensive areas — central 
Alaska and the Aleutians. Although the 
Alaska Highway and the Canol distribu- 
tion pipelines had made possible overland 
supply, the military population still relied 
on the far more economical water route 
and to a smaller extent on air transport. 
Except for internal shipments, the support 
of War Department activities in Alaska 
remained a responsibility of the Seattle 
Port of Embarkation. The bulk of the sup- 
plies moved from the United States by 
ship to Seward or Whittier or the major 
Aleutian ports, with minor tonnage going 
to the small peacetime garrison at Nome. 
Transport within Alaska was the respon- 
sibility of the Alaskan Department. Dis- 
tribution of supplies to minor ports was 
made by an Army-owned small-boat fleet 
based principally on Adak. The small vol- 
ume of Army cargo for the interior was 

'''' Canol Project rpt cited n. 4, pp. 59, 65-66, 70- 
75, 87, 90-91, 139; Rad, Worsham to CG ASF, 4 Dec 
43, Hq NWSC and Off of Div Engr N W Div, AG Sec 
678 Pipe Line, KCRC AGO. 

'' Harpold memo cited n. 10, pp. 14-16. 



68 



THE TRANSPORTATION CORPS 



delivered during the summer months by 
commercial river carriers. The Alaska 
Railroad continued as the primary carrier 
in central Alaska and in December 1945 it 
assumed control of the port of Whittier. 
In April 1946 port operations at Whittier 
were discontinued and all traffic was 
again handled through Seward. 

In general, transportation facilities were 
adequate for the support of the 30,000 
Army, Air Forces, and Navy personnel 
stationed in Alaska in mid- 1946. The only 
carrier giving any concern to the Army 
was the Alaska Railroad, which had been 
subjected to heavy use during the war 
years and was in need of extensive reha- 



bilitation. The Army was again exhibiting 
interest in the improvement of the rail 
line, as well as in the completion of a road 
from Seward to Anchorage to provide an 
alternate route in the event railway serv- 
ice should be interrupted. But on the 
whole, the Alaskan Department could re- 
port in routine fashion that there were no 
transportation difficulties that could not 
be corrected or handled by local action.'^ 



'^ Rpt, Col John R. Noyes, TC, Lt Comdr Ross B. 
Nelson, USNR, and Maj H.J. Heinichen, QMC, to 
CofT, 13 Jul 46, sub: Rpt on Sup of Alaska, OCT HB 
Wylie Alaska; G-4 Per Rpt, Hq Alaskan Dept, 3 1 Mar 
46, p. 2, G-4 Rpts Alaskan Dept 31 Mar 46 (G-533), 
DRB AGO. 



CHAPTER III 



Build-up in Britain 



Shortly after its entrance into the war, 
the United States, in hne with the long- 
range Allied objective of defeating Ger- 
many first, commenced the build-up in 
Britain offerees and equipment intended 
for eventual employment in a major am- 
phibious assault against the Nazi-held 
coast of northwestern Europe. Great Brit- 
ain was in many respects admirably suited 
to serve as a base for the accumulation of 
American strength and the organization of 
British and American armies into a co- 
ordinated striking force. Although 3,000 
miles from U.S. North Atlantic ports, she 
was but a few miles from the European 
Continent. Aside from the resources of 
military manpower and materiel that she 
herself could contribute, Britain possessed 
excellent ports, a strong industrial system, 
well-organized railways, and a skilled 
though depleted labor force. 

The American build-up, involving the 
movement by water of almost 1,700,000 
U.S. Army troops and over 14,000,000 
measurement tons of cargo into the United 
Kingdom by 6 June 1944, posed formida- 
ble transportation problems for both the 
United States and Britain.^ Deployment 
from the zone of interior was narrowly 
circumscribed by the shortage of shipping, 
heavy losses of vessels and freight to enemy 
submarine action, and diversions to meet 
immediate needs in other oversea areas. 
In the United Kingdom, the influx of 
American men and materials placed an 



additional load on transport facilities al- 
ready heavily taxed by wartime require- 
ments. The ports, many of them damaged 
by enemy aerial bombardment, were 
handling a large import program in addi- 
tion to heavy military shipments; the rail- 
ways were crowded with abnormal traffic; 
transport equipment and personnel were 
limited; and highly centralized civil and 
military control of traffic was necessary to 
keep the situation fluid. 

The Americans in Britain at first had to 
rely entirely on the British for the recep- 
tion and distribution of men and equip- 
ment, and indeed were largely dependent 
on British transport facilities, installations, 
and local civilian labor throughout the 
war. The U.S. Army had to orient and 
adapt itself to British operations and pro- 
cedures and to work closely with British 
military and civil shipping, port, rail, 
motor transport, and movement control 
authorities, and with labor unions, steve- 
dores, and other agencies aflecting their 
activities. As the American establishment 
grew, the U.S. Army gradually assumed 
control of the handling of U.S. ships in 
British ports and of the movement of 
American troops and cargo. U.S. port 
troops were brought in to augment the in- 



^ Although a cumulative total of 1,671,010 troops 
had arrived in the United Kingdom as of 3 1 May 
1944, actual troop strength was 1,526,965, largely be- 
cause of troop shipments from the United Kingdom 
to North Africa. 



70 



THE TRANSPORTATION CORPS 



adequate civilian labor force; locomotives 
and rolling stock were imported to bolster 
the overburdened railroads; and a sepa- 
rate American movements control system 
was set up to parallel that of the British. 
The growth of American authority in no 
way mitigated the necessity for close co- 
ordination of U.S. and British transporta- 
tion activities. The tight transportation 
situation required integrated control of 
the flow of men and supply to and within 
the United Kingdom, if a breakdown was 
to be avoided. Despite some inevitable 
friction and occasional conflicts of interest, 
this was achieved to a remarkable degree. 
The task of directing American trans- 
portation activities in the United Kingdom 
was assumed by a young, inexperienced 
Transportation Corps. Still in the process 
of organization in the United States in the 
spring of 1942, the Corps' functions and 
authority were in the formative stage. 
There was no large pool of officers experi- 
enced in transportation matters and no 
doctrine covering the Corps' responsibili- 
ties overseas. A pioneer among oversea 
theater organizations, the Transportation 
Corps in Britain had to gain recognition 
within the theater and assume authority 
over transportation activities formerly 
handled by the Quartermaster Corps and 
the Corps of Engineers. Within the theater 
Services of Supply, the Transportation 
Corps' authority had to be defined vis-a- 
vis territorial base section commands. 
Moreover, as already indicated, relations 
had to be worked out with British trans- 
portation agencies. By an evolutionary 
process the Transportation Corps grew 
from a small handful of officers and en- 
listed men into an effective organization 
that played a vital role in the build-up in 
Britain, the mounting of the invasion, and 
the continental operations that followed. 



Bolero Against a Shifting 
Strategic Background 

American interest in Great Britain 
antedated the actual entry of the United 
States into the war.-' U.S. military ob- 
servers had been sent to Britain in 1940, 
and in March of the following year Con- 
gress enacted legislation extending lend- 
lease aid to the British. Joint staff" discus- 
sions between the American and British 
military authorities were initiated early in 
1941. At these meetings the decision was 
made that should the United States be- 
come involved in the war with both Ger- 
many and Japan, the major emphasis 
would first be placed on the defeat of 
Germany. Also, plans were worked out to 
deploy U.S. forces to Iceland and the 
United Kingdom in the event of war, and 
arrangements were made for an immedi- 
ate exchange of military missions. 

Shortly after Pearl Harbor the Allied 
planners at the Arcadia Conference reaf- 
firmed the objective of defeating Germany 
first, but the method of implementing this 
strategic aim still had to be agreed upon. 
British plans for invading the Continent 
from the United Kingdom (Roundup) 
were vague and limited in scope, and 
more serious attention was devoted to a 
proposed invasion of North Africa (Gym- 
nast). Both plans soon became dormant, 
however, in view of the critical situation in 
the Pacific and the shipping shortage. At 
Arcadia, steps were taken to expand the 



'" Unless otherwise indicated, the section on the 
strategic baclcground of Bolero is based upon the fol- 
lowing: Ronald G. Ruppenthal, Los,utical Support of 
the Armies, Vol. I, UNITED STATES ARMY IN 
WORLD WAR II (Washington, 1954), Chs. I-IV; 
Harrison, Cross-Cha/uiel Attack, Chs. I-III; Matloff 
and Snell, Strategic Planning for Coalition Warfare: 1941- 
1942, pp. 12-62, 97-114, 174-97, 234-45, 278-97, 
307-27. 



BUILD-UP IN BRITAIN 



71 



U.S. force planned for deployment to 
North Ireland from 30,000 to 105,000, in 
order to relieve British divisions for serv- 
ice elsewhere. The first contingent of the 
expanded force, designated Magnet, 
sailed from New York to Belfast in mid- 
January 1942, but the same factors that 
deterred the accomplishment of other 
long-range strategic objectives resulted in 
a cutback of the Magnet Force, and only 
part of the projected number was eventu- 
ally shipped. 

By March 1942 War Department plan- 
ners were able to look beyond readjust- 
ments in the immediate situation and out- 
line a plan for a cross-Channel invasion of 
northern France in the spring of 1943. 
Proposed measures to be taken during the 
period of preparation for this operation 
included amphibious raids along the 
enemy-held European coast, an air offen- 
sive, and the accumulation of U.S. forces 
and materiel in Britain. Provision was also 
to be made for a more limited assault in 
the autumn of 1942, should this prove de- 
sirable to avert a collapse of Soviet forces 
or to capitalize on any serious weakening 
of the German stand in the west. The pro- 
posals, accepted by the British in April 
1942, were referred to as the Bolero Plan. 
However, by summer the term Bolero 
was applied only to the build-up phase of 
the plan, while Roundup and Sledge- 
hammer were code names used for the 
operational phases. 

The planning machinery for Bolero 
was set in motion with the establishment 
of special committees in Washington and 
London. The Washington Bolero Com- 
bined Committee, which held its first 
meeting on 29 April 1942, was described 
as "a shipping agency . . . charged with 
recommendations adequate for placing in 
England the necessary personnel and 



equipment to carry out the Bolero Plan." 
Lt. Col. Marcus B. Stokes, Jr., chief of the 
Planning Division, Transportation Service, 
SOS, began attending on 9 May 1942, as 
the representative of Brig. Gen. (later Maj. 
Gen.) Charles P. Gross.' By this time a 
similar committee had been established in 
London, and both committees were at 
work on the details of the over-all plan for 
the movement of U.S. forces into the Brit- 
ish Isles and for their reception, accommo- 
dation, and supply. 

From the spring of 1942 onward Bolero 
planning was continuous, but was soon 
hedged about by diversions, delays, and 
uncertainties arising from a shifting strate- 
gic situation. This can best be illustrated 
by a discussion of the four Bolero Key 
Plans, which were drawn up by the British 
on the basis of the decisions of the Bolero 
planners and included complete details 
regarding the over-all arrangements for 
accommodating American personnel, 
equipment, and supplies in the British 
Isles. All were siinply revisions or new edi- 
tions of a single basic plan. Issued by the 
British War Office, primarily to inform 
the pertinent British agencies of U.S. 
Army requirements in the United King- 
dom, these plans were useful to all con- 
cerned.' 

The first Bolero Key Plan, dated 31 
May 1942, was based on an ultimate total 
strength of 1 ,049,000 American troops and 
an invasion date of spring 1943. The esti- 
mated rate of arrival of U.S. forces in the 
United Kingdom was to reach a peak of 



' Min, 1st Mtg, Bolero Combined Com (Washing- 
ton), 29 Apr 42. and 4th Mtg, 9 May 42, OPD ABC 
38 1 Bolero (3- 1 6-42) Sec 1 . General Gross served as 
Chief of Transportation in Washington throughout 
World War II. 

' For comparable basic planning directives of the 
LI.S. Army, see Plan for SOS ETO, Vol. V, Transpor- 
tation. 1 Nov 43, AG 381 (5440) USFET. 



72 



THE TRANSPORTATION CORPS 



100,000 to 120,000 men per month by 
September 1942. For planning purposes it 
was assumed that 80 ships carrying a total 
of 320,000 dead-weight tons would be dis- 
charged each month. Maximum use was 
to be made of all suitable British ports. 
The plan also included the evacuation of 
almost all British troops from the south- 
western part of England to give space to 
incoming American personnel. The Sec- 
ond Key Plan, dated 25 July 1942, raised 
the target figures somewhat, but develop- 
ments were already under way that were 
to result in a drastic cutback of the 
build-up program. ' 

In July 1942 the American and British 
chiefs of state decided to undertake a 
North African invasion (Torch) in the fall 
of the year. This operation would not only 
require a great diversion of shipping, per- 
sonnel, and equipment from Bolero but 
also would necessitate shifting to North 
Africa men and materials already in the 
United Kingdom. It was generally con- 
ceded by American planners that launch- 
ing and supporting Torch would in all 
probability rule out a cross-Channel oper- 
ation in 1943. A Third Key Plan, taking 
these circumstances into consideration and 
issued on 11 November 1942, had as its 
first objective a contingent of only 427,000 
U.S. troops in the United Kingdom by the 
late spring of 1943 and a goal of 1 ,049,000 
by the end of that year. In view of the 
higher priority given the Mediterranean, 
the severe shipping losses, and the uncer- 
tainty regarding the date and scope of the 
cross-Channel assault, these figures could 
hardly be considered firm. 

The strategic basis for the resumption of 
a large-scale Bolero movement was 
firmed up slowly during 1943. Although 
at the Casablanca Conference, held early 
in the year, no fixed commitment was 



made with reference to a cross-Channel 
operation, it was decided that a combined 
staff^ under a Chief of Staff^to the Supreme 
Allied Commander (COSSAC) would be 
set up in Britain to plan for coastal raids 
and for a possible invasion of the Conti- 
nent in 1943-44, and that Bolero would 
be resumed." The COSSAC staff" was 
established in April 1943, but the immedi- 
ate execution of the conference's decision 
regarding Bolero was rendered impossi- 
ble by Mediterranean operations planned 
for the summer, continued heavy losses of 
vessels, lend-lease assistance to the Soviet 
Union, and British civilian import require- 
ments. 

Prospects for Bolero brightened per- 
ceptibly during the spring of 1943 as ship- 
ping losses decreased and the Allied stra- 
tegic situation cleared. At the Trident 
Conference in Washington in May it was 
decided to intensify offensive air opera- 
tions based on the British Isles and to 
build up troops, supplies, and equipment 
in Britain for a cross-Channel assault to 
take place about 1 May 1944. To attain 
these objectives, Mediterranean operations 
subsequent to the scheduled invasion of 
Sicily were made subject to approval by 
the Combined Chiefs of Staff", and the 
commander in that area was limited to 
the use of forces already allotted to him. 

Based on schedules proposed at Tri- 
dent, the fourth and last Bolero Key 
Plan appeared on 12 July 1943. It set the 
time of the projected assault as the spring 
of 1944 and called for a total U.S. troop 
strength in the United Kingdom of 1,340,- 
000. It contemplated a maximum of 160 
cargo ships to arrive during April 1944, 

^ For copies of the Bolero Key Plan, see AG 
BoLERO-OQMG (L) Papers, except for the third plan, 
which is found in AG 381 (5440) LJSFET. 

" The title COSSAC was used to indicate both the 
headquarters and its head. 



BUILD-UP IN BRITAIN 



73 



carrying an average load of 4,000 dead- 
weight tons. 

Plans were further crystallized in August 
1943 at the Quadrant Conference at 
Quebec, where the Trident decisions were 
endorsed and the COSSAC plan for a 
cross-Channel invasion (Overlord) in 
May 1944 was affirmed. Also, in view of 
reduced shipping losses, the Bolero com- 
mitment was increased, 1,446,000 troops 
to be available in the British Isles by the 
projected invasion date of 1 May 1944." 
The target date was subsequently post- 
poned a month in order to make available 
an additional month's production. 

Quadrant did not wholly eliminate 
uncertainty in strategic planning. Later in 
the year the British made proposals for 
the postponement of Overlord in favor of 
Mediterranean operations, but these were 
definitely set aside at the Tehran and 
Cairo Conferences of late 1943. There, 
commitments were made for the cross- 
Channel invasion and also for simultane- 
ous landings in southern France (Anvil). 
Primarily because of the landing craft 
shortage. Anvil was later delayed until 
August 1944. 

The progressive firming up of strategic 
planning was reflected in the implementa- 
tion of Bolero. The flow of troops and 
materials into the United Kingdom, a 
trickle during the North African opera- 
tion, began to increase steadily during the 
summer of 1943, reached the flood stage 
in the final six months before the cross- 
Channel assault, and continued for several 
months thereafter. Meanwhile, strategic 
and logistic planning for Overlord had 
gone forward in the United Kingdom. As 
the invasion date neared, attention was 
turned increasingly to the task of bringing 
the American resources built up in Britain 
to bear on the enemy across the Channel. 



It was against this strategic background 
that the transportation tasks involved in 
the U.S. Army's build-up were performed 
and that the organization and procedures 
necessary to that accomplishment were 
gradually developed. 

butial Flow of Troops and Cargo 
to the United Kingdom 

The post-Pearl Harbor movement of 
U.S. troops into the United Kingdom got 
under way on 15 January 1942 when the 
veteran Army transport, Chateau Thierry, 
and the British troopship, Strathaird, left 
New York with 4,058 troops. The com- 
manding officer, Maj. Gen. Russell P. 
Hartle, was critical of conditions on the 
Strathaird, which carried most of the per- 
sonnel. Reflecting the scarcity of shipping, 
the troop quarters were crowded, and 
enemy action could have resulted in more- 
than-normal casualties. Both transports 
arrived safely at Belfast in Northern Ire- 
land, where the troops, composed chiefly 
of elements of the 34th Infantry Division, 
disembarked in the morning hours of 
26 January 1942.' 

Because of the critical situation in the 
Pacific, comparatively few additional U.S. 
troops reached the British Isles during the 
first quarter of 1942. A second convoy, 
nine vessels carrying 8,555 troops, sailed 
from New York for Belfast on 19 February. 
The next major movement did not develop 
until 30 April, when a total of 13,924 U.S. 
Army personnel embarked on eight ships. 
After temporary service as troop carriers 
in the Pacific, the mammoth British pas- 
senger ships Queen Mary and Queen Eliza- 

' CCS 319/5, 24 Aug 43, title: Final Rpt to Presi- 
dent and Prime Minister, Official Quadrant Conf 
Book. 

^ Summary of Hist Events and Statistics, NYPE, 
1942, OCT HB NYPE; Voyage Rpt, Gen Harde, 24 
Jan 42, OCT 370.5 Strathaird. 



74 



THE TRANSPORTATION CORPS 



beth were placed in the New York-United 
Kingdom shuttle service in May and June, 
respectively.'' At the close of June 1942, 
56,090 U.S. Army troops had landed in 
the United Kingdom. Of this total, 41,205 
or 73.4 percent were then stationed in 
Northern Ireland, but with Magnet in 
discard and Bolero under way, the bulk 
of the troops arriving thereafter were to 
debark in England and Scotland.'" 

During the warmer months of the year 
the build-up of American personnel in 
Britain was augmented appreciably by 
"double bunking." To attain the maxi- 
mum passenger lift many of the troops 
slept in shifts, occupying bunks in rotation; 
they were given two meals daily, which 
involved almost continuous mess opera- 
tions. The first such shipment left New 
York on 31 May, when 8,018 passengers 
were crowded aboard the Thomas H. Barry, 
Siboney, and Munargo. Subsequently, it be- 
came a common practice to load transports 
beyond normal troop carrying capacity 
after due provision had been made for life- 
saving equipment and other essentials." 

The troop build-up was accompanied 
by a progressive accumulation of materiel 
in the United Kingdom. U.S. Army cargo 
discharged at British ports increased from 
441 measurement tons in January 1942 to 
279,092 measurement tons in June. As in 
the case of the troops, all cargo at first 
flowed to the Belfast area, but beginning 
in May 1942 the ports on the west coast of 
England, as well as in the Clyde area of 
Scotland, commenced to receive American 
cargo and soon outstripped North Ireland 
in importance. '- 

Development of the Transportation 
Organization 

Success in the Bolero program was 
dependent upon the development of an 



eflficient supply and transportation organ- 
ization for the U.S. Army in the British 
Isles. When the first American troops 
landed, there was neither a Services of 
Supply nor a chief of transportation, and 
several months elapsed before this situ- 
ation changed. 

The first American contingent placed 
no great burden on British transport, but 
larger troop movements were bound to 
create problems. Sensing the need of closer 
liaison on transportation matters, the in- 
terested British agencies in April 1942 
asked that U.S. Army personnel be as- 
signed to assist. In response, the War De- 
partment advised Maj. Gen. James E. Cha- 
ncy, then in command of the U.S. Army 
Forces in the British Isles (USAFBI), that 
Col. (later Maj. Gen.) Frank S. Ross and 
four assistants would be sent to London, at 
the same time recommending that Ross 
serve as Chancy 's chief of transportation. 
General Chancy concurred concerning 
Ross and requested an additional twelve 
officers as the nucleus of a transportation 
staff" of fifty or sixty officers that would be 
needed before the arrival of a large body 
of U.S. troops.' ' 



■' The Queen Mary carried 9,863 on her first trip as a 
carrier of LI.S. troops, and the Queen Elizabeth, 10,383. 
The hft of each was later increased to approximately 
15,000 troops. See Rad, Somervell to CG ETOUSA, 
30 Aug 42, GM-OUT 9329, OGT 370.5 England, 
and OCT Monograph 12, pp. 20-23. 

'" For statistics see below, p. 103, Table 1. 

" Summary of Hist Events and Statistics, NYPE, 
1942, p. 6, OGT HB NYPE; OGT HB Monograph 30 
p. 179; Rpt, GO Troops Hq 6528, Overloading of 
USAT 39, the Thomas H. Barry, 1 1 Jun 42, OGT HB 
Ocean Trans Overseas Troop Mvmts; Memo, IG for 
GofS, 9 Sep 42, sub: Overseas Mvmts, WDGSA 370.5. 

'- For statistics see below, p. 104, Table 2. 

' ■ Rads, AGWAR (Marshall) to USFOR London, 
22 Apr 42, GM-OUT 4315, and London (Ghaney) 
to AGWAR, 24 Apr 42, GMTN 6536, OGT 210.3 
England 42; Ltr, Ross to Harold Larson, 9 Mar 49, 
OGT HB Inquiries. 



BUILD-UP IN BRITAIN 



75 



Meanwhile, an Army Services of Supply 
had been created in Washington as part of 
the War Department reorganization in 
March 1942. Within SOS, an organization 
was set up to take over transportation 
functions formerly performed by G-4 and 
the Quartermaster Corps. It was expected 
that parallel SOS organizations would be 
activated in the oversea commands, and 
the War Department took the initiative in 
organizing an SOS for the United King- 
dom. At a staff conference in Washington 
on 7 May 1942, Lt. Gen. Brehon B. Som- 
ervell, Commanding General, SOS, an- 
nounced that Maj. Gen. (later Lt. Gen.) 
John C. H. Lee had been chosen to head 
the Services of Supply in the British Isles. 
General Lee was to prepare preliminary 
plans, decide on a tentative organization, 
and then leave for London. The head of 
each supply service at Washington was 
asked to submit the names of his two best 
men, of whom one was to be selected for 
Lee's staff. General Gross, then chief of the 
SOS Transportation Service (later Trans- 
portation Corps), strongly recommended 
Colonel Ross, already earmarked for duty 
with General Chaney. Ross then became 
chief of Transportation Service under 
General Lee.^^ 

Born in Colorado on 9 March 1893, 
Ross had spent his early years in Texas, 
where during summer vacations he had 
worked on a railroad. He began his mili- 
tary career in 1916 as a private in the 
Texas National Guard. After serving in 
World War I he remained as an officer in 
the U.S. Army. On 7 December 1941, he 
was already stationed in Washington, 
D.C., as chief of the Port and Water Sec- 
tion, Transportation Branch, G-4. In late 
April 1942 Ross was ready to join the 10th 
Armored Division. He was, in fact, none 
too enthusiastic about going to the British 



Isles as a staff officer since he preferred a 
combat assignment, but he saw the poten- 
tial importance of the task. Lean, ener- 
getic, high-strung, Ross was to serve 
throughout the war as the U.S. Army 
chief of transportation for the European 
theater.^'' 

Ross had begun planning an organiza- 
tion before he received his appointment to 
Lee's staff. At this time the SOS in Wash- 
ington was contemplating considerable 
expansion of the functions of its Transpor- 
tation Service. Patterning his organization 
on this concept, Ross assembled officers to 
staff the rail, water, and motor divisions, 
and to plan for the organization of units to 
be employed in operating and maintain- 
ing small landing craft during the Channel 
crossing. He came into Lee's organization 
fully convinced of the necessity for inte- 
grating all theater Army transportation 
activities, other than air, and expected 
that this doctrine would be accepted. ''' 

The Transportation Office 

Headquarters, Services of Supply, 
USAFBI, was activated under General 
Lee on 24 May 1942, the day he and a 



'^ Hist Monograph, Hist Div USFET, Administra- 
tive and Logistical History of the European Theater 
of Operations, Pt. H, Organization and Command in 
the European Theater of Operations, Vol. I, Mar 46 
(hereafter cited as Adm and Logistical Hist of ETO, 
Pt. H. Vol. I), pp. 8-9, 20-21, OCMH Files; Wkly 
Confs, SOS. 7 May 42, p. 2, sub: Orgn SOS, AG 381 
(5440) Bolero USFET; Memo, Gross for Lee. 7 May 
42, sub: SOS BoLERO-Trans Sv, OCT HB Gross Day 
File. 

'"' For biographical details, see T/5 Irwin Ross, 
"Ross of ETO," Army Transportation Journal, I, 3 
(April 1943), 32-36; and TC Monthly News Ltr, 
ETO, Vol. 3, No. 2, 28 Feb 46, pp. 1-2, OCT HB 
ETO Trans News Letter. 

"' See Gross memo cited n. 14 and Ross ltr cited n. 
13. The Transportation Corps was soon relieved of 
functions pertaining to landing craft, and organiza- 
tional provisions for this activity were abandoned. 



76 



THE TRANSPORTATION CORPS 



group of his staff officers arrived.'" A 
member of this party, Colonel Ross imme- 
diately began to assemble and organize his 
headquarters staff. His knowledge of Army 
transportation in World War I had con- 
vinced him of the advisability of having 
not only transportation experts drawn 
from civilian life but also "a leavening of 
Army officers." The professional soldiers 
could supply the supervision that he 
believed had been woefully lacking in 
the American Expeditionary Forces in 
1917-18. In furtherance of this policy, 
wherever possible Ross placed a Regular 
Army officer in a key position but selected 
an officer with the appropriate civilian 
technical background to serve as assistant. 
The resultant pooling of experience was 
intended to insure smooth operation from 
both the military and the technical points 
of view. For deputy chief of transportation, 
Ross chose Col. Norman A. Ryan, who 
combined a substantial military back- 
ground with more than thirty years of 
railway experience.'^ 

On 1 1 June 1942 an initial allotment of 
135 officers reported for duty in the Office 
of the Chief of Transportation, then tem- 
porarily located at No. 1 Great Cumber- 
land Place in London. Most of the men 
had little or no experience in the transpor- 
tation field and of course knew nothing of 
local conditions.'" 

Up to this time there was no formal 
theater directive defining the authority 
and functions of the SOS and its subordi- 
nate services in the theater, since there 
were differences between General Lee, 
who with the War Department desired an 
organization with broad administrative 
and supply responsibilities, and General 
Chancy, who believed that the SOS 
should have more limited powers. Formal 
definition of the scope and extent of the 



SOS, including its transportation organi- 
zation, had to await a change in theater 
organization and command.-" 

On 8 June 1942 the European Theater 
of Operations (ETOUSA) was established 
as successor to the U.S. Army Forces in 
the British Isles. General Chancy was re- 
placed as theater commander by Maj. 
Gen. (later General of the Army) Dwight 
D. Eisenhower on 24 June.-' The question 
of the organization of transportation in the 
theater was raised immediately. Writing to 
General Eisenhower on 22 June, Somer- 
vell requested his opinion regarding the 
desirability of creating in oversea theaters 
a "separate transport corps entirely di- 
vorced from the Quartermaster Corps," 
and whether that service should also oper- 
ate railroads. Eisenhower replied that it 
was essential "that all forms of transporta- 
tion — motor, rail, water — be closely co- 
ordinated." He was in complete agreement 
with his SOS commander. General Lee, 
who had already set up a transportation 
service and assigned it responsibility for 
the operation of all means of surface trans- 
portation in the communications zone, in- 
cluding ports, motor transport, and mili- 
tary railways. He concluded that a 
transportation service should be organ- 
ized separate from the Quartermaster 
Corps, and that the operation of railroads, 
then charged to the Chief of Engineers, 
should come under the Chief of Transpor- 



'' Adm and Logistical Hist of ETO, Pt. II, Vol. I, 
pp. 30-31. 

'^ Hist Rpt, TC ETO, I, 1-4 and App. 2, OCT HB 
ETO. 

'" Hist Red, TC SOS ETO, Aug 42, OCT HB ETO 
Hq. 

-"' Adm and Logistical Hist of ETO, Pt. II, Vol. I, 
pp. 27-44, 57-64. 

-' Ray S. Cline, Washington Command Post: The Op- 
erations Division, UNITED STATES ARMY IN 
WORLD WAR II (Washington, 1951), p. 374. 



BUILD-UP IN BRITAIN 



77 



tation Service. On 19 July Somervell 
informed Eisenhower that the Secretary of 
War had approved the creation of a 
Transportation Corps that would be re- 
sponsible for all rail and water activities. 
With regard to motor transport, on the 
other hand, Somervell had taken steps to 
centralize the procurement and mainte- 
nance of vehicles in the Ordnance Depart- 
ment, and had left the truck companies in 
the Quartermaster Corps. The truck units 
in the theater, he stated, could be attached 
as circumstances warranted to the Trans- 
portation Service, a division, a corps, or 
the quartermaster or other staff officers.-"' 

In the meantime, work on a general 
order defining the role of the SOS in the 
European Theater of Operations (ETO) 
had gone forward, and on 20 July 1942 a 
theater directive was issued outlining the 
structure and functions of General Lee's 
organization. Included was provision for a 
Chief of Transportation Service on the 
special staff of the Commanding General, 
SOS. This provided formal recognition for 
a Transportation Service exercising trans- 
portation functions previously divided 
between the Quartermaster and the 
Engineers.-'^ 

In the following month the Transporta- 
tion Service in ETO was redesignated the 
Transportation Corps, following the pat- 
tern already set by the parent organization 
in Washington. Since the Corps was new 
and not thoroughly understood either in 
the zone of interior or overseas, Ross's 
organization was subject to frequent ad- 
justments. Pursuant to a War Department 
directive of August 1942 that assigned 
vehicle maintenance to the Ordnance De- 
partment and left truck operations with 
the Quartermaster Corps, Ross was de- 
prived unexpectedly of all motor transport 
functions other than movement control on 



the highways. However, in July 1943 he 
was again assigned responsibility for motor 
transport operations. Meanwhile, Ross's 
functions pertaining to rail transportation 
had been given War Department sanction 
in mid-November 1942, when it broad- 
ened the scope of the Transportation Corps 
to include all military railway activities 
except construction.-' 

Other adjustments had to be made in 
relation to the SOS base command struc- 
ture that evolved in the United Kingdom. 
Deciding to decentralize his operations. 
General Lee in the summer of 1942 set up 
skeleton territorial base sections, which in 
the ensuing months grew into full-fledged 
organizations. Ultimately five base sec- 
tions were established. (Map 2) Base sec- 
tion commanders were made responsible 
for administration and supply, and for all 
SOS operations in their areas not 
exempted by the commanding general. A 
number of activities, among them Trans- 
portation Service including port oper- 
ations, initially were exempted from base 
section control, but this arrangement soon 
came up for reconsideration. Base section 
commanders were dissatisfied with the 
degree of control exercised by the chiefs of 
technical services over exempted activities. 
A firm believer in base sections, Lee 
steadily increased their authority, and in 
August 1943 completely abolished ex- 
empted activities, making base section 



-- Memo, Eisenhower for CG SOS WD, 27 Jun 42, 
sub: Contl and Opn of Trans, AG Adm 341 A ETO; 
Memo, Somervell to Eisenhower, 19 Jul 42, OCT HB 
ETO Misc Info. 

-' Adm and Logistical Hist of ETO, Pt. II, Vol. I. 
p. 69. 

-•' Ltrs, Ross to Gross, 25 Aug and 10 Sep 42, OCT 
HB Gross ETO — Gen Ross; Ltr, Ross to Harold Lar- 
son, 9 Mar 49, OCT HB Inquiries. On Transporta- 
tion Corps motor transport functions, see below, pp. 
126-29. 



TRANSPORTATION REGIONS 
IN THE UNITED KINGDOM 

October 1943 



Base section boundary 
Region boundary 




MAP 2 



BUILD-UP IN BRITAIN 



79 



commanders responsible for all SOS oper- 
ations in their respective areas.-' 

This decentralization of the control of 
transportation operations to the base sec- 
tions limited the chief of transportation to 
technical direction. The change was par- 
ticularly important in the realm of port 
operations — the largest U.S. transporta- 
tion activity in the United Kingdom. 
Some base section commanders gave the 
term technical direction a liberal inter- 
pretation, permitting the chief of trans- 
portation considerable leeway in dealing 
with the ports. Others, understandably 
jealous of their prerogatives, closely con- 
trolled the activities of their port com- 
manders. Ross never concurred in the 
arrangement that placed the ports under 
the base sections, believing that its success 
was too dependent on the personalities 
and caliber of the several base section 
commanders, and that the interjection of 
a headquarters between the chief of trans- 
portation and the ports handicapped ef- 
fective supervision and co-ordination. As 
will be seen, the vague line of demarkation 
between base section control and tech- 
nical direction in some instances created 
difficulties in the conduct of port oper- 
ations. The larger problem of decentral- 
ized versus centralized control of transpor- 
tation activities was to come up again on 
the European continent, as well as in 
other oversea commands.-'' 

In July 1942, in order to obtain more 
space and a better location, General Lee 
moved SOS headquarters from London to 
Cheltenham, a former resort city in Glou- 
cestershire. However necessary, this trans- 
fer posed a problem for the chief of trans- 
portation. He could function only by 
co-operating with the U.S. supply services 
at Cheltenham, but at the same time he 
could not operate without maintaining 



liaison with the British transportation 
agencies in London. Ross therefore had to 
divide his staff. The principal administra- 
tive duties and the operating functions 
that involved the supply services were cen- 
tered at Cheltenham, but many of the 
personnel, especially those in planning 
and liaison activities, stayed in London in 
order to keep in direct contact with the 
British. A special courier service had to be 
devised to facilitate interoffice communi- 
cation, since Cheltenham was about ninety 
miles from London. Maintenance of a 
split staff proved undesirable, and in mid- 
August Ross began the gradual return of 
his Cheltenham organization to London. 
There, suitable space was found in Self- 
ridge's Annex, which housed the Trans- 
portation Corps headquarters until its 
move to France."' 

Aside from two small branches for con- 
trol and statistical purposes, the staff of 
the theater chief of transportation, as it 
was organized on 1 November 1942, was 
concerned with three types of activity: op- 
erations, administration, and planning 
and liaison. Operations, which included 
control of American rail and highway 
movements and supervision of work done 
at the ports, was headed by Col. Donald 
S. McConnaughy. Administration, then 
under Lt. Col. James R. Worthington, in- 
volved the usual housekeeping functions, 
together with cable communications. 
Planning dealt primarily with the trans- 
portation aspects of pending operational 

-' Adm and Logistical Hist of ETO, Pt. II, Vol. I, 
pp. 108-22, 239-50. 

-'' Ltrs, Ross to Larson, 9 Mar and 5 Dec 49; Intervs, 
Larson with Col David W. Traub, 21 Mar 50, and 
with Maj W. H. Henderson, 14 Jan 49, OCT HB 
ETO UK Ports. 

-' Ruppenthal, op. at., pp. 159-60; Hist Rpt, TC 
ETO, I, 4-5, 12, OCT HB ETO; Ltrs, Ross to Gross, 
8 Jul, 25 Aug 42, and 10 Sep 42, OCT HB Gross Day 
File, and Gross ETO — Gen Ross. 



80 



THE TRANSPORTATION CORPS 



projects, and liaison was almost entirely 
with the British. Planning and liaison were 
assigned to Col. (later Brig. Gen.) George 
C. Stewart, until he left for North Africa 
and was replaced by Lt. Col. (later Col.) 
David W. Traub on 13 November 1942.-' 

Meanwhile, the contemplated invasion 
of North Africa had begun to have a dis- 
turbing effect upon the Transportation 
Corps in the British Isles. The first blow 
fell on the planning staff. In late August 
1942, except for the executive who re- 
mained to insure the continuity of plans 
for operations in the United Kingdom, all 
the planning personnel had to work on 
the transportation aspects of the projected 
assault.-'' In the same month a small liai- 
son group, headed by Colonel McCon- 
naughy, was assigned to assist the British 
in effecting outbound movements in sup- 
port of Torch. Since the infant Transpor- 
tation Corps was not yet prepared to per- 
form the task, the British assumed respon- 
sibility for the movement of all American 
as well as British personnel and material 
leaving the United Kingdom for North 
Africa. The liaison group represented the 
U.S. Army interest at the British War 
Office, assisting in the screening of re- 
quests for moves and determining their 
priority. Later known as the Export 
Movement Division, this organization dis- 
banded in the spring of 1943 when the 
volume of outbound traffic for the North 
African theater had fallen off.-^" 

The North African invasion not only 
created a diversion in planning activities, 
but also cut deeply into the strength of the 
Transportation Corps in the United King- 
dom. In mid-October 1942, Ross reported 
that transfers to the Torch operation had 
seriously depleted his staff, although he 
believed it would be possible to rebuild 
rapidly on the framework remaining in 



the United Kingdom, if the Bolero 
program should be revived. Shortly there- 
after Ross was assigned to temporary duty 
in North Africa, and in his absence Colo- 
nel Ryan assumed charge of the transpor- 
tation office. During this period many 
transportation officers left the British Isles 
to serve in North Africa. Some, such as 
Colonel Stewart, remained with the forces 
in North Africa, Sicily, and Italy, but 
others, including Ross, had only tempo- 
rary assignments. Several transportation 
units, among them the 3d Port and three 
port battalions, also were sent from the 
United Kingdom to take part in the North 
African campaign. '' 

Although greatly reduced, the Trans- 
portation staff that remained in Britain 
experienced no difficulties because the 
load was slackening. In the six months 
from November 1942 to May 1943, the 
bulk of the available U.S. Army personnel 
and cargo flowed into North Africa rather 
than the United Kingdom. American per- 
sonnel debarking at British ports fell to a 
low of 1,277 in March 1943, and in that 
month the total discharge of U.S. Army 
cargo was only 65,767 measurement tons. '- 

Despite certain adverse factors, the 
North African operation benefited the 



-" Hist Rpt, TC ETO, I, 3-5, 12-16, and App. 3, 
OCT HB ETO. 

-"' OCT HB Monograph 29, pp. 41-48; Hist Rpt, 
TC ETO, I, 15-16; Hist Red, TC ETO, dictated Aug 
42 by Maj W. H. Beers, pp. 7-8, OCT HB ETO, Hq. 

•" Ltr, Ross to Gross, 26 Oct 42, OCT HB Gross 
ETO — Gen Ross; Hist Rpt, Story of Transportation in 
the United Kingdom (hereafter cited as Story of 
Trans in UK), pp. 147-48, OCT HB ETO; Hist Rpt, 
TC ETO, I, 9, OCT HB ETO; IRS, Exec Officer E.x- 
port Mvmt Div to Exec Officer OCT, 10 Apr 43, AG 
320 Functions of TC Hq USFET, Serial 11, EUCOM. 

" Ltrs, Ross to Gross, 14 and 26 Oct 42, OCT HB 
Gross ETO — Gen Ross; Hist Rpt, TC ETO, Vol. I, 
App. 8, OCT HB ETO; Ltr, Ryan to Gross, 7 Nov 42, 
OCT HB Gross ETO— Rail. 

'- Ltr, Ross to Gross, 26 Oct 42, OCT HB Gross 
ETO — Gen Ross. See also. Tables 1 and 2. 



BUILD-UP IN BRITAIN 



\ 



U.S. Army transportation organization in 
the British Isles. Personnel losses, some 
only temporary, were offset by experience 
gained. Valuable "know-how" had been 
acquired in helping to outload the task 
force units that sailed from the United 
Kingdom. Both Ross and his associates in 
North Africa profited by the first-hand ex- 
perience obtained in unloading troops and 
cargo and operating ports and railways in 
an active theater. On the whole, it was 
fortunate that this foretaste of wartime 
conditions came before the Transportation 
Corps had to support the invasion of Nor- 
mandy. '' 

Ross reached North Africa on 1 1 No- 
vember 1942, departed on 26 January 
1943 for a brief stay in the United States, 
and then returned to London.'' Soon 
thereafter, he reorganized his headquar- 
ters in order to simplify administrative 
procedures, to differentiate between oper- 
ating and traffic control agencies, and to 
effect decentralization. In addition to a 
Control Section under his direct supervi- 
sion, the new organizational pattern pro- 
vided assistant chiefs of transportation for 
administration, for planning (including 
intelligence, statistical, and historical func- 
tions), for traffic control (meaning simply 
movement control), and for operations 
(comprising such operating agencies as 
the ports and the military railways to- 
gether with the functions relating to pack- 
ing and marking, training, tracing lost 
shipments, and moving perishables).^"^ 

In July 1943 General Ross made further 
changes.^'' The Military Railways Branch, 
formerly under Operations, was given 
separate status as the Military Railways 
Division. Operations was redesignated the 
Marine Operations Division, and the 
motor transport functions recently recov- 
ered by the theater chief of transporta- 



tion were placed under a new Motor 
Transport Division. Later, the Traffic Con- 
trol Division was redesignated the Move- 
ments Division, and a new Supply Divi- 
sion was established. As shown in Chart 1, 
on 9 January 1944 the transportation 
office had seven divisions, each headed by 
an assistant chief of transportation. With 
this organization Ross was ready to meet 
the responsibilities of D Day. 

At the close of January 1944 the prin- 
cipal functions of the European theater 
chief of transportation were to give tech- 
nical supervision to the operation of all 
port facilities under U.S. Army control; to 
effect and control the transportation of 
U.S. personnel and cargo from ships to 
destinations in the theater, and subse- 
quent movement by rail, highway, or 
water; to operate and maintain military 
railways under U.S. Army jurisdiction; to 
control U.S. Army movements by motor 
vehicles and to operate motor transport 
not assigned to other services or com- 
mands; to advise the commanding general 
of the theater Services of Supply as to 
limitations imposed by transportation fa- 
cilities on tactical operations; and to 
recommend policy on all Transportation 
Corps matters in the European theater.^' 

During the fall of 1943 Ross had also 
begun to adapt his organization to pro- 



" OCT HB Monograph 29, pp. 47-48; Ltr, Ross to 
Gross, 31 Dec 42, OCT HB Gross ETO — Gen Ross. 

■'■' Hist Red, OCT AFHQ NATOUSA, activation 
to 31 Oct 43, Sec. IV, p. 1, OCT HB North Africa. 

■'■■-> Ltr, SOSTCa-320, 10 Apr 43, and IRS, CoiT 
SOS to AG SOS ETO, 21 Apr 43, AG 320 Respon- 
sibilities of TC 1943-45 EUCOM. 

'■'' Promoted to brigadier general on 25 June 1943, 
Ross attained the rank of major general on 3 June 
1944. 

'■ Memo, CofT SOS ETO, 1 1 Jul 43, sub: Orgn of 
OCT; Office Memo 28, OCT SOS ETO, 10 Sep 43; 
Material submitted by Gen Ross for SOS Orgn Adm 
and Opns Manual. 30 Jan 44. All in AG 320 Respon- 
sibilities of TC 1943-45 EUCOM. 



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BUILD-UP IN BRITAIN 



83 



jected operations on the Continent by 
creating the Advance Echelon, which be- 
gan detailed planning for Overlord and 
later became part of the Forward Echelon, 
Communications Zone. ''^ 

The Problem of Personnel 

The Transportation Corps in the 
United Kingdom, like other technical 
services, had to contend throughout the 
war with two basic handicaps. One was 
the Army policy of limiting service troops 
to a minimum, so as to provide the maxi- 
mum shipping space for combat units. 
The other was a growing shortage of man- 
power, which forced acceptance of men 
with little or no transportation ex- 
perience.'" 

Early in June 1942 the troop basis set 
up for U.S. Army transportation activity 
in the United Kingdom contemplated a 
headquarters staff, two traffic control 
units, and four port organizations. The 
traffic control units, then known as group 
regulating stations, each had 75 officers 
and 300 enlisted men. Specifically devised 
by Ross to provide overhead personnel, 
they could be used "anywhere for any- 
thing." ^" Each port headquarters was to 
have attached to it four port battalions, 
two service battalions, and certain other 
necessary service units. 

The first American port personnel had 
reached Belfast in May. Other transpor- 
tation units began arriving in the United 
Kingdom in June and July. The initial 
port headquarters, the 3d, debarked on 23 
June. To gain experience, it was assigned 
to the Bristol Channel area for on-the-job 
training with the British. On 13 July the 
4th Port landed and was stationed in the 
Mersey area. In the same month the 1st 
Group Regulating Station reached the 



theater. Subsequently, the requirements 
of the North African invasion led to a 
temporary suspension of the movement of 
transportation troops into Britain and to 
withdrawals among those units that had 
arrived." 

Largely because of the diversion of per- 
sonnel to North Africa, the theater chief 
of transportation's headquarters organiza- 
tion in February 1943 numbered only 55 
officers, 5 warrant officers, and 120 en- 
listed men. Under its supervision were the 
1st Group Regulating Station and the 4th 
and 5th Ports. '- Meanwhile Ross, during 
his brief visit to Washington, had sought 
among other things to establish new per- 
sonnel requirements for the Transporta- 
tion Corps in the European theater. On 5 
March 1943 he received an allotment of 
thirty-seven officers to perform adminis- 
trative, personnel, planning, procure- 
ment, highway, marine, and railway func- 
tions, but he pressed for more. He was es- 
pecially anxious to obtain more regulating 
groups, claiming that he could not func- 
tion without them. He could not, he 
added, continue to cry on the shoulders of 
the British for help. If necessary, he was 



'^ For this and subsequent developments pertaining 
to Transportation Corps activities in connection with 
the cross-Channel invasion, see Ch. VI, below. 

'■''> Memo, Wylie for Gross, 16 May 42, OCT HB 
Wylie Staybacks; Ltr, Ross to Larson, 5 Dec 49, OCT 
HB Inquiries. 

•" Ltr, Ross to Larson, 5 Dec 49, Note 25, OCT HB 
Inquiries. 

" Memo, Lt Col V. H. Williams, Jr., for CofT, 3 
Jun 42, sub: Troop Basis . . . Bolero, OCT 370.5 
England (Mvmt Bolero) 41-42; Ltr, Ross to Gross, 8 
Jul 42, OCT HB Gross Day File; Memo, Williams for 
Gen Dillon, 21 Sep 42, sub: Units and Equip Status, 
OCT 370.5 Mvmt Bolero (Ry Equip and Ry Pers 
Rqmts). 

'- Ltr, Col Worthington, OCT, to Col Ryan, 
DCofT SOS ETO, 3 Feb 43, OCT 210.3 England 43; 
Rad, USSOS London to WAR, 25 Feb 43, CMTN 
13305, OCT 320.2 England 43; Ltr, Ross to Gross. 30 
Mar 43, OCT HB Gross ETO— Gen Ross. 



84 



THE TRANSPORTATION CORPS 



willing to take youngsters fresh from offi- 
cer candidate schools in the United States 
and to train them after arrival overseas. ' ' 
The theater chief of transportation was 
disappointed with the personnel sent to 
him in the first half of 1943. The enlisted 
men, in particular, lacked both experience 
and education. He found it hard to under- 
stand why he was given shoe repair men, 
laundrymen, sewing machine operators, 
and tailors. Specifically, he wanted white 
enlisted men who could read and write, 
an essential requirement if they were to 
keep track of freight and perform the other 
necessary documentation. For traffic reg- 
ulating groups, he also needed men who 
could deal with both military and civilian 
personnel and could work in close har- 
mony with their British counterparts. The 
officers he received often failed to measure 
up to the desired standards. Some were 
deficient in discipline, courtesy, and tech- 
nical qualifications. Many were older men 
who did not hold up well under the long 
and arduous hours of work that were 
required.^' 

Because of the difference between Amer- 
ican and European customs and methods, 
a special school was established for the 
orientation of newly arrived Transporta- 
tion Corps officers and enlisted men. The 
first session, held at Seamills Camp near 
Avonmouth, was opened on 1 August 1943. 
The instruction stressed matters peculiar 
to the United Kingdom and the Continent 
and explained in detail the wartime opera- 
tions of the Transportation Corps. Ross 
considered the results excellent. ^"^ 

Prodded by vigorous protests from 
ETOUSA, General Gross and his staff 
tried hard to eliminate poor timber from 
Transportation Corps units destined for 
the United Kingdom. Improvement re- 
sulted, and as the year drew to a close 



there was less criticism of incoming per- 
sonnel. Early in September 1943 Ross 
commented favorably on the 4th Regulat- 
ing Group, from which misfits and other 
unqualified personnel had been screened 
before the unit left the United States."' 

Nonetheless, the situation during the 
ensuing months was difficult. As late as 6 
June 1944 the theater chief of transporta- 
tion was worried by delays in the arrival 
of personnel and the need of employing 
green men. He believed that the Trans- 
portation Corps should have had the serv- 
ices of many qualified men who had been 
assigned to less important positions else- 
where. He reported, however, that with 
few exceptions the performance of recently 
received units had been good. The main 
problem was that these troops could not 
acquire sufficient experience in the thea- 
ter before the invasion began. *^ 

Co-ordination of U.S. and 
British Transportation 

One of the first jobs facing the Trans- 
portation Corps in the United Kingdom 
was to effect a satisfactory working rela- 
tionship with the pertinent British mili- 
tary and civilian agencies. With British 

*■'' Memo, Col Fremont B. Hodson for Col Herbert 
B. Wilcox, OCT, 5 Mar 43, sub: Commissioned Pers 
for UK, and Ltr, Wilcox to Ross, 26 Mar 43, OCT 
210.3 England 43; Ltr, Ross to Hodson, 3 Apr 43, 
OCT 320.2 England 43. 

^' Ltrs, Ross to Wilcox, 19 Jun 43, and Wilcox to 
Ros.s, 28 Jun 43, OCT 210.3 England 43; Ltr, Ross for 
CofT, 29 Jun 43, sub: TC Shipts EGB 390 and EGB 
436, OCT 370.5 England 43; Ltr, Ross to Gross, 30 
Jun 43, OCT HB Gross ETO — Gen Ro.ss. 

'■ On the Seamills School, see Hist Rpt, TC ETO, 
L 10-11 and App. 14, OCT HB ETO. Cf. Ltr, Ross 
to Larson, 5 Dec 49, Note 31, OCT HB Inquiries. 

"' Ltrs, Gross to Ross, 21 Aug 43, and Ross to Gross, 
7 Sep 43. OCT HB Gross ETO — Gen Ross; Ltr, Ross 
to Larson, 5 Dec 49, Note 30, OCT HB Incjuiries. 

'' Ltrs, Ross to Gross, 6 and 30 Jun 44, and Gross 
to Ros.s, 19 Jun 44, OCT HB Gross ETO— Gen Ross. 



BUILD-UP IN BRITAIN 



85 



transport facilities already hard hit by the 
war, effective and co-ordinated control of 
American and British traffic was neces- 
sary to avoid port congestion and to pre- 
vent a breakdown of the railways. Even 
before the Americans arrived, British 
trciins were carrying far larger passenger 
loads, although usually for shorter dis- 
tances, than most U.S. trains. To the for- 
midable British traffic was added, in 1942, 
the burden of American personnel, equip- 
ment, and supplies for the build-up. "^ 

The British early in World War II had 
instituted a strict control of all transpor- 
tation, military and civilian. On the civil- 
ian side, to attain more effective co-ordi- 
nation of port management and inland 
transport, the new and powerful British 
Ministry of War Transport (BMWT) had 
been formed in May 1941 by a fusion of 
the former Ministries of Shipping and 
Transport. Under Lord Leathers, the 
BMWT exercised pervasive control over 
shipping, port operations, and inland 
transport. To the Americans, the more im- 
portant BMWT agencies were the Diver- 
sion Committee, which directed ships still 
at sea to their destination ports; the Sea 
Transport Service, which among other 
things had charge of the berthing and un- 
loading of all U.S. vessels for a time; and 
the regional port directors, who controlled 
port operations. The British railways were 
operated by civilians at the direction of 
the Railway Executive Committee. Other 
BMWT divisions controlled the allocation 
of civilian motor transport, coasters, and 
inland waterway facilities within the 
United Kingdom.'"' 

On the military side, the Quarter- 
Master-General of the British Army had 
a Movements Control Directorate, usually 
known as ''Q," Movements. It was headed 
by a director of movements, who had two 



deputies, one for stores (that is, freight) 
and the other for personnel. Q Movements 
was represented at every level of com- 
mand. Assigned to each of the British mili- 
tary commands were movement control 
officers, who in turn operated through 
subordinates, generally intermediate dis- 
trict officers, and, in the lowest echelon, the 
railway traffic officers (RTO's) stationed at 
all principal points. A central headquar- 
ters in London co-ordinated all British 
movements involving one or more com- 
mands. At the ports, the British movement 
control organization was represented by 
embarkation commandants and teams of 
embarkation staff officers and RTO's. The 
Quarter-Master-General also had a direc- 
tor of transportation, who was responsible 
for the construction of port and rail facil- 
ities and for their technical operation 
when not performed by a civilian agency. 
The Royal Air Force had its own move- 
ment control organization, set up parallel 
to and working in close conjunction with 
the British Army Movements Control 
Directorate.^" 

The theater chief of transportation 
stressed the necessity of maintaining close 
liaison with the British on all transporta- 
tion activity. Aside from establishing 
numerous contacts with the British Min- 
istry of War Transport regarding ship 



'^ Story of Trans in UK, pp. 2, 13. 

*■' Ibid., pp. 14-15; Rpt, Consolidated Historical 
Report on Transportation Corps Activities in the 
European Theater of Operations, May 1942 Through 
\'-E Day (hereafter cited as Consolidated Rpt on TC 
Activities in ETO), Annex 5, p. 1, OCT HB ETO. 
See also William K. Hancock and M. M. Cowing, 
British War Economy! (London: His Majesty's Station- 
cry Office, 1949), pp. 219, 268, 271. 

'" Handbook of Administrative Instructions for the 
Cooperation of the British Army and the Ground 
Forces of the United States Army in the British Isles, 
1943, prepared by the British War Office in conjunc- 
tion with Hq ETOUSA, 29 Apr 43, Sees. XX\T- 
XXVII, OCT 320.21-352.0 England 43. 



86 



THE TRANSPORTATION CORPS 



diversions, rail operations, and other mat- 
ters, he worked closely with the British 
director of transportation (Maj. Geil. 
Donald J. McMullen), particularly with 
respect to the procurement of railway 
equipment. Of necessity, too, Ross had to 
set up effective liaison with the British di- 
rector of movements (Maj. Gen. Noel G. 
Holmes). Controlling all British military 
movements in the United Kingdom, the 
Movements Directorate served as mentor 
and model in the development of a paral- 
lel American organization.'' 

U.S. Liaison and Organization 
for Movement Control 

From the first, the staff of the U.S. 
transportation organization followed Brit- 
ish procedures and learned by working 
alongside British movement control per- 
sonnel. Soon after reaching London, Ross 
established informal liaison with the Brit- 
ish Director of Movements through Maj. 
Louis Zinnecker, who had been handling 
transportation matters for General 
Chancy. During the transitional period, 
while the newly arrived personnel became 
familiar with British methods. Major 
Zinnecker remained temporarily as liaison 
officer until replaced on 8 June 1942 by 
Colonel Stewart. At that time, two officers 
were placed under Stewart, one detailed 
to the British deputy director of move- 
ments for personnel (Brigadier C. S. 
Napier), and the other assigned to the 
deputy director of movements for stores 
(Brigadier W. D. A. Williams). This 
marked the inauguration of an increas- 
ingly important liaison activity.-'- 

As American traffic expanded, the liai- 
son begun at London had to be extended 
throughout the United Kingdom. During 
July and August 1942 the theater chief of 



transportation established a movement 
control organization patterned after that 
of the British. In the top echelon were 
U.S. regional transportation officers, 
whose areas corresponded to those of the 
British military commands and whose 
major staff function was to maintain liai- 
son with the British on transportation 
matters. Under the regional transporta- 
tion officers were operating agencies 
headed by district transportation officers. 
In the lowest echelon were the local rail- 
way traffic officers. Although staffed by 
U.S. Army personnel, the new organiza- 
tion followed the prevailing British pat- 
tern, and its personnel frequently shared 
quarters and facilities with their British 
counterparts. The arrangement worked 
well, and Ross's only complaint was that 
the British were too polite and did not put 
his men to work quickly enough. '^ 

At first the British wanted to absorb the 
American personnel into their own move- 
ment control system, but Ross disagreed, 
believing that the establishment of a U.S. 
Army organization able to act for itself 
was an essential prerequisite to its ultimate 
transfer to the Continent, where it would 
operate its own line of communications. 
Equally undesirable was the development 
of a completely separate U.S. movement 
control organization, for the British and 
Americans then would both be doing the 
same type of work and competing for 
available transport facilities. The solution 
adopted was to set up a system of joint 



■" Hist Rpt, TC ETO, I, 6-7, OCT HB ETO; Ltr 
Ross to Larson, 5 Dec 49, Note 9, OCT HB Inquiries; 
Consolidated Rpt on TC Activities in ETO, Annex 
5, pp. 2-3. 

- Hist Rpt, TC ETO, I, 7, 14, and App. 1, OCT 
HB ETO; Interv, Col Thomas Fuller, 15 Jun 48, 
OCT HB ETO Misc. 

■'■'Story of Trans in UK, pp. 15, 74-76, 79; Ltr, 
Ross to Wylie, 28 Jul 42, AG Adm 3 1 4 A ETO. 



BUILD-UP IN BRITAIN 



87 



traffic control, whereby each individual 
engaged in this activity — whether British 
or American — was held responsible for his 
respective movements. In practice, U.S. 
and British movement control personnel 
co-operated freely, the former relieving 
the latter as rapidly as possible in the areas 
where American troops had become the 
principal users of transportation.''' 

The first U.S. Army Regional Trans- 
portation Office in the United Kingdom 
was established in Northern Ireland on 14 
July 1942. By mid-August five others had 
been set up in the British Isles. ■^' Since 
they paralleled the British military com- 
mands, the six transportation regions did 
not coincide with the four base sections 
(Northern Ireland, Western, Eastern, and 
Southern), set up by the Services of Sup- 
ply in July 1942. This necessitated a de- 
parture from the British system, under 
which movement control personnel were 
directly responsible to the director of 
movements in London. To provide the 
necessary co-ordination, the regional 
transportation officers were placed on the 
special staffs of the base section command- 
ers, with the theater chief of transporta- 
tion exercising technical supervision over 
their operations. In practice, the regional 
transportation officer nearest a base sec- 
tion headquarters became the base section 
transportation officer for that base section, 
and Ross later recommended that the 
term "regional transportation officer" be 
dropped, since it was peculiar to the 
United Kingdom.^'' Including the Central 
Base Section (London) and two additional 
regions, by 1943 there were eight trans- 
portation regions and five base sections. 
(See Map 2.) 

As the representative of the theater 
chief of transportation the regional trans- 
portation officer supervised all U.S. Army 



traffic under his jurisdiction, maintaining 
constant liaison on transportation matters 
with the British authorities and with the 
American units within his region. Any 
unit that desired to move had first to con- 
sult the district transportation officer to 
make the necessary arrangements.'^' All 
movements of American personnel and 
freight were under his direct supervision, 
as were also the railway traffic officers as- 
signed to his district. 

Operating at the ports, depots, and 
principal railway stations utilized by U.S. 
troops, the railway traffic officer repre- 
sented the theater chief of transportation 
at the lowest echelon in movement con- 
trol."" As the local trouble shooter, he 
sought to expedite the movement of U.S. 
troops, supplies, and equipment. He 
helped provide prompt and dependable 
transportation by maintaining close liai- 
son with British movement control officers 
and civilian railway personnel. At big 
depots he dealt almost exclusively with 
freight, arranging for rail cars, supervising 
their loading and dispatch, completing 
the necessary documentation, and keep- 
ing the depot commander informed on all 
transportation matters. At large railway 



^^ Story of Trans in UK, pp. 15-16; Ltr, Ross to 
Larson, 9 Mar 49, OCT HB Inquiries; Trans Sv In- 
structions and Info, 17 Jul 42, OCT HB Gross ETO— 
Rail. 

■=■ Hist Rpt, TC ETO, I, 46, OCT HB ETO; Story 
of Trans in UK, p. 76. 

■« GO 10, SOS ETO, 20Jul 42; Consolidated Rpt 
of TC Activities in ETO, Annex 5, p. 1 ; Ltr, Lt Col 
Page H. Slaughter to Larson, 4 Apr 50, OCT HB In- 
quiries; Memo, CofT COMZ ETO for CofT WD, 10 
May 45, sub: Current and Future Orgnl Rqmts, CofT 
ETO, AG 320 Responsibilities and Functions of TC 
EUCOM. 

" The district transportation officer was renamed 
district regulating officer in 1944. Hist Rpt, TC ETO, 
II, 31, OCT HB ETO. 

"'^ The Railway Traffic Officer was also called Rail 
Transportation Officer. As a rule the RTO was an en- 
listed man specially trained for this work. 



THE TRANSPORTATION CORPS 



stations, on the other hand, the RTO was 
concerned chiefly with personnel. He 
supervised the loading and unloading of 
U.S. troops and accompanying equip- 
ment, and performed a wide variety of 
personal services. At one time or another 
practically every American soldier had 
reason to be grateful for service received 
from the officer with the brassard reading 
"R.TO. U.S.A.'^ The average RTO had 
to arrange travel accommodations for 
about two hundred persons daily. If more 
than twenty persons were involved, clear- 
ance had to be obtained from the District 
Transportation Officer. American mili- 
tary personnel traveling on orders were 
required only to submit a copy of their 
orders to the RTO at the station, who 
then issued a travel warrant for use as a 
ticket. 

The RTO had many duties and prob- 
lems. He had to keep records of both per- 
sonnel and freight movements. Lost or 
misplaced baggage, particularly barracks 
bags, was a daily headache. Since the 
British railways ordinarily lacked dining 
car service, the RTO had to assist when 
U.S. troop trains made a so-called "re- 
freshment halt." A frequent problem was 
the American soldier on furlough who 
lacked funds to return to his camp. In 
September 1942 the Transportation Corps 
devised a system of repayment warrants, 
whereby the RTO could arrange for rail 
travel and the cost was deducted from the 
soldier's next pay. As the local field agent 
of the theater chief of transportation, the 
RTO constituted a basic element in move- 
ment control for the U.S. Army, first with- 
in the British Isles and later on the 
Continent.'" 

American railway traffic officers were 
drawn initially from the 1st Group Regu- 
lating Station, a traffic control unit that 



arrived in Liverpool on 12 July 1942 and 
was dispersed in small detachments 
throughout Great Britain. These men 
were trained beside their British counter- 
parts and instructed to keep their eyes and 
ears open and mouths shut. In the mean- 
time, they were urged to learn the British 
control system and to attempt no innova- 
tions. By September 1942 they were re- 
placing the British RTO's and taking 
hold in good fashion.''" 

As was to be expected, the American 
RTO's experienced some difficulty in ad- 
justing themselves to British methods of 
traffic control. They often tended to speed 
up operations and press for additional 
railway equipment to the annoyance of 
their British colleagues. Eventually, how- 
ever, the American and British RTO's 
came to understand each other better, as 
a result of their close association and their 
work on similar problems.''' 

Under the system outlined above, the 
theater chief of transportation, working in 
close co-operation with British transporta- 
tion and movement control agencies in 
London, the nerve center of British trans- 
portation, exercised control over all Amer- 
ican personnel and cargo movements to 
and from the ports and between the 
regions and base sections. Regional trans- 
portation officers, operating under his 
technical supervision, were responsible for 
implementing directives of the theater 
chief of transportation governing inter- 
regional moves and for directly arranging 
for local moves in conjunction with their 



'" On RTO's, see the following: Story of Trans in 
UK, pp. 79-87; Hist Rpt, TC ETO, Vol. I, App. 10 
and App. 14, pp. 20-24, OCT HB ETO. 

'■" Ltr, Ross to Gross, 10 Sep 42. OCT HB Gross 
ETO— Gen Ross. 

'■' Story of Trans in UK, pp. 80-81, 87; Hist, 1st 
Gp Regulating Station, 8 Jun-Dec 42, AG Opns Rpts 
TCRE-10.1. '^ 



BUILD-UP IN BRITAIN 



89 



local British opposite numbers. Under the 
supervision of the Army regional trans- 
portation officers, the district transporta- 
tion officers and the RTO's performed the 
actual operational aspects of traffic 
control. ''- 

Procedures Governing the Movement 
of Traffic 

In the course of building its movement 
control organization, the Transportation 
Corps evolved procedures governing the 
flow of American men and materials into 
British ports and their distribution to the 
interior. These procedures were designed 
to regulate the flow into the main stream 
of British traffic under tight schedules and 
over heavily burdened transportation 
facilities. They encompassed movements 
from the point of departure in the zone of 
interior to their ultimate destinations in 
the United Kingdom.'"' 

In the case of inbound cargo, aside from 
forecast and sailing cables received from 
the United States, Transportation Corps 
headquarters in London got its first ink- 
ling of what to expect from the cargo- 
loading cable dispatched for each out- 
bound vessel by the U.S. port of embarka- 
tion. The port of embarkation also 
forwarded two copies of each ship's mani- 
fest by air. The cargo-loading cable, con- 
taining a general description of the cargo 
in the ship, by hatch and deck level, was 
intended primarily to facilitate the selec- 
tion of a port of discharge in the United 
Kingdom. The manifest, listing in detail 
what the ship carried, among other things 
enabled the supply services to nominate 
depots for the reception of the cargo. 

Approximately one week before the 
estimated time of arrival of the convoy 
with which the ship had sailed, the 
BMWT Diversion Committee met to de- 



termine the port best suited to receive the 
vessel. At this meeting were represented 
all agencies interested in importing, ware- 
housing, shipping, receiving, and moving 
cargo into the United Kingdom, includ- 
ing the British Q Movements and the U.S. 
Transportation Corps. The decision of the 
Diversion Committee was sometimes a 
compromise, since the most conveniently 
located port with respect to the destina- 
tion of the bulk of the cargo might already 
be too congested to accommodate addi- 
tional shipping. Such factors as avail- 
ability of berths and labor, the ship's 
draft, special types of cargo-handling 
equipment that might be required, and 
the availability of transport to the interior 
were all taken into consideration. The 
Diversion Committee, of course, consid- 
ered ships other than those with U.S. 
Army cargo, selecting ports for as many as 
500 ships a month. 

Before the Diversion Committee met. 
Transportation Corps headquarters in 
London, on the basis of the cargo-loading 
cable, had selected a tentative port and 
determined from the theater U.S. chiefs 
of services the depots and warehouses to 
which they desired the cargo transported. 
If the manifest arrived early enough be- 
fore the Diversion Committee meeting, it 
was ''broken down," a process that in- 
volved extraction of the items pertaining 
to the respective supply services, which, 



''- Story of Trans in UK, pp. 74-78; Ltr, Slaughter 
to Larson, 4 Apr 50, OCT HB Inquiries. 

'•' On procedures governing the movement of cargo 
and personnel, see the following: Memo, OCT 
ETOUSA, to CofT WD, sub: Summary of Vessel 
Opns in the UK, 27 Apr 43, OCT 000-900 ETO 
1943; Story of Trans in UK, pp. 69-70, 81, 131-32; 
Oral info. Col Traub, former DColT SOS ETO, 13 
Feb 50, OCT HB ETO UK Misc; Consolidated Rpt 
on TC Activities in ETO, Annex 5, Pt. I, pp. 4-6, Pt. 
H. pp. 1-2; Interv. Bykofsky with Col Cleland C. 
Siblev, 28 Jan 53, OCT HB ETO. 



90 



THE TRANSPORTATION CORPS 



on the basis of the Hkely port, indicated 
the desired inland depot destinations. 
Armed with such information, the Trans- 
portation Corps representative gave the 
Diversion Committee the facts upon which 
a definite port allocation of the vessel was 
made. 

Upon the assignment of a definite port, 
the theater chief of transportation notified 
the interested port commander and chiefs 
of services. After the latter had made a 
final revision of desired destinations, the 
Freight Branch in Transportation Corps 
headquarters prepared cargo disposal in- 
structions, showing the number of the ves- 
sel, port of discharge, date of berthing, 
marking of the cargo, number of packages, 
type of cargo, destination to which the 
cargo was to be moved, and the suggested 
means of transport and the British agency 
or services involved. In the case of ship- 
ments by rail, thechief means of transport, 
the railroads to be used and the destina- 
tion depot, or the station nearest to the 
destination, were shown. These instruc- 
tions were distributed to port command- 
ers, all chiefs of services, regional trans- 
portation officers, and interested British 
agencies. 

Cargo disposal instructions ordinarily 
were in the hands of the port commanders 
and the transportation agencies concerned 
forty-eight hours before the vessel was to 
be berthed, in order to give them time to 
plan for discharge and port clearance. As 
each carload, truckload, or bargeload was 
dispatched from a port to a depot, the 
RTO at the port notified the depot com- 
mander through his RTO by teletyped 
Traffic Dispatch Advice, giving the num- 
ber of the rail car or other carrier, a brief 
description of its contents, and the time of 
dispatch from the port. 

So far as inbound personnel were con- 
cerned, Washington normally notified the 



theater chief of transportation by cable of 
contemplated shipments of units, and later 
informed him of the convoys with which 
the units were scheduled to sail. On the 
basis of this information. Corps headquar- 
ters obtained from the theater G-3 the 
destinations desired and published a fore- 
cast of arrivals for the use of all agencies 
involved. When the convoys sailed, the 
U.S. ports of embarkation cabled confir- 
mation directly to the theater chief of 
transportation, who then set in motion the 
arrangements for reception of the units 
and their movement inland. In the case of 
the Queens, which crossed so quickly and 
carried such large numbers that the usual 
sailing cable did not allow enough time to 
prepare for debarkation, an earlier cable 
notice was sent that might be only 80 per- 
cent correct as to numbers and units and 
yet would enable planning to begin in the 
theater before the final cable arrived. 

Upon receipt of the sailing cable from 
the U.S. port, the Transportation Corps 
Passenger Branch in London met with 
representatives of Q Movements and the 
British railways to work out the details of 
securing rail equipment, scheduling trains, 
and planning stops for meals. Movement 
instructions were prepared and jointly 
signed by the theater chief of transporta- 
tion and the British director of movements. 
Indicating the port and date of arrival 
and the strength of units, the instructions 
were issued to the port commanders and 
RTO's concerned. 

For large shipments, the main difficulty 
was to obtain enough railway equipment 
without disrupting British traffic. Because 
of the possibility of enemy air action and 
the pressure for a quick turnaround of 
transports, it was necessary to effect 
prompt debarkation and clearance of in- 
coming passengers. Since trains ran on ex- 
tremely close schedules, their spotting. 



BUILD-UP IN BRITAIN 



91 



loading, and departure had to be timed to 
the minute — a complex and delicate task. 
Indeed, the scheduling of trains dictated 
the entire debarkation procedure. 

The debarkation of troops, like the dis- 
charge and clearance of cargo, was the re- 
sponsibility of the port commander. Before 
the vessel docked, his boarding party in- 
formed the troops on security regulations 
and gave the transport commander and 
unit commanders the plan of debarkation. 
Upon debarkation, the troops, under the 
guidance of an RTO, marched directly 
from the pier to trains waiting nearby. 
After supervising their entrainmcnt and 
completing arrangements for indicated re- 
freshment stops, the RTO notified the 
transportation officer at point of destina- 
tion. At the end of the rail journey the 
men were met by the RTO in charge of 
their onward movement to the assigned 
camp or billet, which might be reached on 
foot or by truck. 

The regulation of the flow of American 
traffic in the United Kingdom was obvi- 
ously a complicated undertaking, involv- 
ing the co-ordination of shipping, port 
facilities, inland transportation, the desires 
of the various U.S. supply services, and 
the diverse if not confficting interests of 
British and American agencies. At the 
same time as he was creating his own or- 
ganization and co-ordinating his trans- 
portation activities with those of the Brit- 
ish, the theater chief of transportation had 
the continuing task of receiving, identify- 
ing, and distributing the cargo essential to 
the build-up. This proved to be no simple 
task.''' 

Cargo Reception, Identification, 
and Distribution 

From the outset General Ross had dif- 
ficulty getting adequate and timely data 
on vessels bringing U.S. military cargo to 



the United Kingdom. Advance informa- 
tion regarding the type and amounts of 
cargo was urgently needed to facilitate 
discharge and distribution, as well as to 
expedite return of the ships to the zone of 
interior. Late receipt of such data ad- 
versely affected control of inbound U.S. 
Army cargo, particularly when data ar- 
rived so late that the depot destinations 
could not be secured in time for the Diver- 
sion Committee meeting. Throughout the 
summer of 1942 Ross repeatedly requested 
that he be kept fully and promptly 
advised of all inbound shipments for the 
U.S. Army. On occasion he discovered 
that British agencies received cargo data 
four to five days earlier than he did. He 
complained, in particular, that the sailing 
cables and cargo manifests from New 
York reached him spasmodically.''^ 

At the New York Port of Embarkation, 
which had the primary supply responsibil- 
ity for the European theater, the port 
commander stated that the cables were 
dispatched through the Signal Corps not 
later than twenty-four hours after sailing, 
and that the manifests were being for- 
warded by air in the distinctive envelopes 
the theater had requested. Yet even if the 
cables were sent out promptly, they were 
often slow in reaching the theater, since 
they were routed through Washington. 
After arrival in the United Kingdom, ad- 
ditional time was lost in decoding, para- 
phrasing, and delivering the message. As 
a matter of fact, the Signal Corps was so 
burdened with wartime traffic that Ross 

'^-* Rpt, Maj Thomas J. Mooney, NYPE, Visit to 
ETOUSA, 4 Aug 43, OCT 3 19.1. 

''^ Ltrs, Ross to Gross, 10 and 2 1 Sep 42, OCT HB 
Gross ETO— Gen Ross; Hist Rpt, TC ETO, I, 22-25, 
OCT HB ETO; Memo, Exec Officer OCT for CG 
NYPE, 25 Mar 42, sub: Info Required by London; 
Rad, London to AGWAR, 3 1 Jul 42, CM-IN 10895. 
Both in OCT 567 England 42. Rad, London to 
AGWAR. 27 Jun 42, CMTN 9338, OCT 319.1 Eng- 
land 42. 



92 



THE TRANSPORTATION CORPS 



had to set up his own cable section. As to 
the cargo manifests, even when they were 
forwarded by air, dehvery might be de- 
layed by adverse weather conditions. 

Moved by the plight of the theater, the 
Chief of Transportation in Washington 
initiated corrective action. Late in August 
1942, with the co-operation of the State 
Department, General Gross inaugurated 
an officer courier system to transmit ship- 
ping papers by air to the United King- 
dom. '^'^ In the following month, at the 
request of the European theater, the 
Transportation Corps adopted a stand- 
ardized cargo-loading cable for the United 
Kingdom. It gave the name, code number, 
destination, status, and physical charac- 
teristics, together with a brief description 
of the cargo carried. The newly devised 
cargo-loading cable was a great improve- 
ment; it could be used in place of a miss- 
ing manifest in order to effect the proper 
disposition of cargo.''' 

Vessels from the United States nor- 
mally proceeded under escort to a rendez- 
vous near the British Isles, where the 
convoy was broken up. The respective 
ships were then assigned by the BMWT 
Diversion Committee to the British ports 
best able at the time to receive the passen- 
gers and cargo. Because of severe enemy 
air attacks in the southern and eastern 
coastal areas, most American cargo en- 
tered through ports in North Ireland and 
the British west coast ports along the 
Clyde, the Mersey, and the Bristol Chan- 
nel. The crowded condition of the ports, 
scarcity of inland depot space, frequent 
night raids by German bombers, and ever- 
present shipping shortages all pointed up 
the desirability of expediting port clear- 
ance and vessel turnaround through ad- 
vance planning for cargo distribution."'' 

Despite determined efforts to effect im- 



provement, the European theater con- 
tinued to be plagued until well into 1943 by 
delayed, inadequate, or missing data on in- 
bound cargo. The cargo-loading cable on 
the SS Abraham Baldwin, for example, did 
not come through until 29 January 1943, 
the very day the vessel was to be consid- 
ered by the Diversion Committee. Since 
the meeting was to be held at 10:30 A. M., 
there was obviously no time left to deter- 
mine the inland destinations, and the 
American representatives had to attend 
the meeting without knowing where the 
U.S. Army cargo was to be delivered. In 
March, the theater chief of transportation 
reported that five cargo ships had arrived 
without the slightest advance information 
from the United States. He therefore 
urged that "dynamite" be placed under 
the persons responsible at the ports of 
Boston and New York."" 

In response to repeated complaints from 
the theater. General Gross on 17 April 
1943 issued instructions to the port com- 
mander at New York that henceforth the 
theater chief of transportation was to be 
directly advised of all cargo shipments to 



«" Memo, CG NYPE for CofT WD, 4 Aug 43, sub: 
Info for CG USFOR, OCT 567 England 42; Memo, 
CofT for CG SOS WD, 21 Aug 42, sub: Asgmt of Of- 
ficers . . . as Couriers, OCT 31 1.4-319 England 41- 
42; Ltr, CofT to Secy State, 20 Aug 42, OCT 311.4 
England 42; Ltr, Ross to Larson, 5 Dec 49, OCT HB 
Inquiries. 

'■■ Memos, Opns Officer OCT for CGs NYPE, BPE, 
and HRPE, 5 and 30 Sep 42, sub: Cargo Loading 
Cables, OCT 563.5 England 42; Hist Rpt, TC ETO, 
I, 23, OCT HB ETO. 

'•" Memo, Vissering for ACofS for Opns SOS, 4 Nov 
42, AG 400 (Equip & Sup to Accompany Overseas 
Troop Mvmts); Rad, London to AGWAR, 17 Nov 
42, CM-IN 7398, OCT 567 England 42. See also 
Ruppenthal, op. cit., pp. 146-47. 

'■■' Ltr, Ryan to Gross, 24 Mar 43, OCT 569.4 Eng- 
land 43; Memo, ACoH^ ASF for Maj Gen Homer M. 
Groninger, 10 May 43, sub: Cargo Cables to LIK, 
OCT I IB Wylie Staybacks. 



BUILD-UP IN BRITAIN 



93 



the United Kingdom, irrespective of the 
nature or of the type of ship, with the 
single exception of equipment carried by 
troops. Shortly afterward, arrangements 
were made to send cargo cables directly 
from New York to London, rather than via 
Washington, thereby saving time. Gross 
also stationed an officer at the New York 
port for a thirty-day period to check the 
transmission of cargo information. Ross 
soon reported a great improvement in the 
receipt of cargo manifests, but noted that 
the cargo-loading cables were still causing 
difficulty.'" 

The problem of delay in the receipt of 
cargo-loading cables was then attacked by 
the installation of additional circuits, and 
marked improvement followed. By July 

1943 the difficulty had been largely elimi- 
nated, and during September timely ad- 
vices were received for 94 percent of the 
ships bringing U.S. Army cargo to the 
United Kingdom. In August all necessary 
papers were received at least five days be- 
fore the arrival of the ships in the British 
Isles. '^ 

Early in 1944 the Chief of Transporta- 
tion in Washington undertook an experi- 
mental program to develop a standard 
manifest to satisfy both the oversea com- 
manders and the ports of embarkation. 
Two types resulted: one for information 
required by transportation agencies, and 
the other for data needed by supply agen- 
cies. The transportation manifest, sup- 
ported by the standardized shipping docu- 
ments introduced by the U.S. Army in 
1943, made up the supply manifest. Trans- 
mitted by air to the theater, the supply 
manifest provided advance data on incom- 
ing shipments. Coupled with other meas- 
ures to facilitate cargo identification, the 
shipping procedures in eff^ect by D Day 

1944 were adequate to keep the European 



theater fully and promptly informed on all 
inbound cargo.'-' 

Packing, Marking, and ^oning 

The European theater chief of trans- 
portation also had to contend with poor 
packing and marking, which slowed both 
port clearance and ultimate distribution 
to the depots. Army procedures in these 
matters had not been adapted to wartime 
requirements, and other oversea com- 
mands encountered much the same prob- 
lem." ' As early as March 1942, deficiencies 
were noted in the marking and packing of 
equipment sent to Northern Ireland. Dur- 
ing the ensuing summer Ross's complaints 
were loud and long. He reported that at 
Liverpool he had watched the discharge 
of a vessel in which 30 percent of the cargo 
had no markings at all and much of the 
remainder was so poorly marked that the 
supply services had to open and examine 



■» Memo, ACofT for CG NYPE, 1 7 Apr 43, sub: 
Delays and Omissions in Forwarding Cargo Info 
Overseas, and Ltr, Gross to Ross, 20 Apr 43, OCT 
569.4 England 43; Ltrs, Gross to Ross, 10 May 43, and 
Ross to Gross, 18 May 43, OCT HB Gross ETO— Gen 
Ross. 

'' Ltrs, Gross to Ross, 27 May 43, and Ross to 
Gross. 30 Jun 43, OCT HB Gross ETO — Gen Ross; 
Ltrs, Ross to Wylie, 3 Jul 43, and Ross to Gross, 31 
Jul 43, OCT 319.1 England; Memo, CG SOS ETO 
for CG ASF, 18 Sep 43, sub: Ships' Manifests and 
B/L, OCT 569.4 England 43; E.xhibit D, prepared by 
Mvmts Br Chief Opns TC SOS ETO, 9 Oct 43, m 
Plan of SOS ETO, Vol. L Trans, 1 Nov 43, AG 381. 

"- Memo, Chief Contl Div OCT for Exec OCT, 5 
Nov 45, sub: Rpt on Accomplishments and Handi- 
caps, par. 4, OCT HB Contl Div Rpts; ASF Annual 
Rpt, FY 44, pp. 27-29; OCT HB Monograph 19, pp. 
273-75. 

' ■ On packing and marking, see Chester Wardlow, 
The Transportation Corps: Movements , Training, and Sup- 
ply (Washington, 1955). pp. 133 ff., and Erna L. Risch, 
The Quartermaster Corps: Organization, Supply, and Serv- 
ices, Vol. I (Washington, 1953). UNITED STATES 
ARMY IN WORLD WAR 11, pp. 355-59. 



94 



THE TRANSPORTATION CORPS 



practically half of what they received be- 
fore proper distribution could be made. In 
an explosive account Ross told of opening 
an unmarked crated cardboard box which 
contained a complete shelter tent packed 
in excelsior, of finding two new engines 
completely ruined because of poor pack- 
ing, and of seeing a carefully crated empty 
wooden reel with no clue as to the shipper. 
He noted dozens of boxes with addresses in 
lead pencil on one side, or other illegible 
or unsuitable markings. Moreover, the 
packing followed commercial peacetime 
procedures and was wholly inadequate for 
wartime conditions. Fully half the cargo 
was in uncrated pasteboard cartons that 
would not stand rough handling and ex- 
posure to rain.'^ 

Better methods of packing and marking 
obviously were needed, and this was pri- 
marily a responsibility of the supply serv- 
ices in the zone of interior, working under 
the supervision of Army Service Forces 
(ASF) headquarters. The Transportation 
Corps assisted, by setting up an inspection 
system at ports on both sides of the Atlan- 
tic so that unsatisfactory marking and 
packing would be reported. Early in Au- 
gust 1942, Ross informed Gross that he 
was establishing an inspection service at 
U.K. ports. Gross replied that he had 
taken similar measures and was having 
the problem thoroughly studied, but he 
pointed out that information on which to 
base remedial action would have to come 
chiefly from the theater.'' 

Despite some improvement, by the fall 
of 1942 the shortcomings of the Army 
marking system had created serious prob- 
lems in the European theater. There, the 
routing and distribution of supplies to the 
proper destination was hindered by the 
lack of a simple clear-cut system of code 
marking that would facilitate identifica- 



tion of the container or group of con- 
tainers. The prevailing marking practice 
ignored the necessity of reconsigning a 
large percentage of shipments received in 
the theater, and it did not provide in suf- 
ficient detail for the prominent display of 
the code marking itself in a uniform loca- 
tion on the container. The theater there- 
fore recommended a revision providing for 
more detailed, clearer, and more uniform 
marking procedures, but, chiefly because 
of preoccupation with the North African 
invasion, nothing came of this proposal. 
The Torch operation revealed various 
deficiencies in packing and marking which 
were duly noted in the European theater. 
The principal development that followed 
in the British Isles was the activation in 
December 1942 of a ten-man mobile 
packing unit, which served as a training 
group, demonstrating proper packing and 
marking techniques to selected personnel 
of service and tactical units."'' 

The European theater again urged re- 
vision of the marking procedure, and in 



' ' Memo, Col Vissering for Lt Col Clarence P. 
Townslcy, SOS, 26 Apr 42, sub: Deficiencies in 
Freight Shipt for 2d Contingent Magnet, OCT 544.2- 
565.1 England 42; Ltr, Ross to Wylie, 28 Jul 42, AG 
ETO Adm 341A; Hist Rpt, TC ETO, III, 13-14, 
OCT HB ETO; Ltr, Ross to Larson, 5 Dec 49, No. 37. 
OCT HB Inquiries. 

■"' Rad, Ross to Gross, 4 Aug 42, CM-IN 1269, and 
Cbl, Somervell for CofT to USFOR, 17 Aug 42, CM- 
OUT 5318, OCT 370.6-400.301 England 41-42; 
Capt. F. W. Koepnick, "Wrap It Up," Army Trans- 
portation Journal, I, 8 (September 1945), 4. 

''' AG Ltr, 26 Jul 42, sub: Requisitioning and 
Marking Sup for Overseas Shipt, OCT HB Water Div 
Code Marking; Memo, Capt H. L. Phyfe for CofT 
SOS ETOUSA, 7 Oct 42, sub: Marking of Sup, OCT 
HB Ocean Trans Cargo Marking; Hist Red, OCT 
AFHQ NATOLJSA, activation to 3 1 Oct 43, Tab 
AK, Annex E, OCT HB North Africa; Memo, Actg 
Cofr SOS ETO for CofF WD, 14 Mar 43, sub: Pack- 
ing and Marking, OCT 400. 1-400.21 5 England 43; 
Ltr, Ross to Wylie, 1 Jun 43, OCT 319.1 England 
Jan-Sep 43. 



BUILD-UP IN BRITAIN 



95 



December 1942 sent two officers to the 
zone of interior to propose the so-called 
Ugly system.'' This new scheme called 
for numbering requisitions so that the 
oversea command could readily identify 
all items en route in a convoy through the 
receipt of a cargo cable listing the identi- 
fying numbers and the cargo tonnage un- 
der each number. The Chief of Trans- 
portation in Washington did not accept 
the plan as presented, but by 23 March 
1943 a satisfactory compromise was 
reached. Applied at first only to the 
United Kingdoni, the new marking sys- 
tem identified shipments by the requisi- 
tion number, which also appeared on the 
cargo manifest and in the cargo cable. By 
September 1943 complaints from the the- 
ater had decreased about 90 percent. ''' 

The new marking system was followed 
on 1 June 1943 by a new War Department 
directive, of general application, which 
aimed at providing secrecy while insuring 
an uninterrupted flow of materiel to over- 
sea consignees. Three general methods of 
marking oversea shipments were pre- 
scribed: (1) by shipment numbers (groups 
of three or more digits) for troop move- 
ments or special supply movements; (2) 
by shipping designators (words or pro- 
nounceable combinations of four letters) 
for routine shipments of supplies; (3) by 
marking "in the clear" when specifically 
authorized. The Chief of Transportation 
at Washington was charged with the su- 
pervision of the marking system as it ap- 
plied to all classes of supplies consigned to 
oversea destinations through U.S. Army 
ports of embarkation. 

As described in the directive, the over- 
sea address usually was in three parts. The 
first, intended primarily for transporta- 
tion agencies, always included the ship- 
ping designator on the shipment. The 



second part normally consisted of the ab- 
breviation for the shipping service and the 
class of supply indicated by a Roman 
numeral. The third part, designed mainly 
for the oversea commander, comprised a 
combination of letters and numbers to 
designate the specific shipment or ultimate 
consignee. A typical oversea address 
might read "BOBO-QM II-A322." Pro- 
vision was also made for other markings, 
including a description of the container's 
contents, its weight, cubage, and package 
number, its priority, and its service color.''' 

Elaborate additional marking to indi- 
cate the depot of origin or a partial ship- 
ment did not develop until October 1943, 
when the complete identification system 
known as ISS (Identification of Separate 
Shipments) was put into effect for all the- 
aters. By June 1944 further refinements 
had been added, such as a symbol showing 
the time priority of the shipment and the 
assignment of numbers to line items on the 
requisition.^" Given proper marking, over- 
sea port personnel could readily identify 
incoming cargo and effect the desired dis- 
tribution within the theater. 

Closely related to the marking problem 
was the concurrent need of a workable 
zoning system, whereby shipments could 

' ' Ugl^' was the shipping designator for Great Brit- 
ain. See WD Pamphlet 38-4, Shipping Designators, 
10Jul45. p. 18. 

'^ Ltr. CofT SOS to DCofT SOS ETOUSA, 16 Dec 
42, OCT HB Gross ETO Rail; AG Ltr 400.161 (3-19- 
43) OB-S-SPORT-M. 23 Mar 43, sub: Asgmt of Code 
Combinations for Shipts to ETO; Memo, Col N. M. 
Coe, OCT, for ACofT for Opns TC, 9 Apr 43, sub: 
Info to ETO, OCT 400. 1 -400.2 1 5 England 43; Re- 
marks, Col Coe, Proceedings of Zone Trans Officers' 
Conf 24. 25, 26 Sep 43, OCT ASF, p. 97. 

'■' Directive WD. Requisitioning and Marking Sup- 
plies for Overseas Shipment (Marking Directive), 1 
Jun 43, OCT HB Ocean Trans Cargo Marking. 

""' The requisition line item consisted of not more 
than three digits, starting with No. 1 for the first item. 
In effect this limited a single requisition to 999 items. 
See ASF Annual Rpt, FY 44, p. 29. 



96 



THE TRANSPORTATION CORPS 



be consigned to definite areas within the 
United Kingdom. Throughout 1942 cargo 
vessels were loaded simply for Nabob 
(Northern Ireland) and/or Wildflower 
(Great Britain). Early in 1943, at the sug- 
gestion of the British Ministry of War 
Transport, Colonel Ryan proposed a plan 
whereby Great Britain was to be divided 
into areas to which specific U.S. Army 
shipments would be sent. The suggestion 
was favorably received in Washington, 
and it was put into effect as soon as theater 
approval of a plan had been obtained."" 

The new zoning plan was designed to 
simplify the diversion of incoming cargo 
vessels and to help relieve the strain on 
British railways by eliminating wasteful 
crosshauls. As set up in April 1943, Zone I 
comprised the United Kingdom north of 
a line of county boundaries drawn through 
London and Banbury; Zone II consisted 
of the area south of this line, including the 
port of London. Provision was also made 
for a possible Zone III in Northern Ire- 
land. Zones were to be served by ports 
within their area, although most cargo 
entering the Clyde in Zone I had to be for- 
warded by coaster to ports in Zone II. As 
many ships as practicable were to be load- 
ed in the United States with cargo re- 
quired in a single zone. The change began 
with the July 1943 requisitions. ^- 

The shipping designator Ugly (Great 
Britain) was to be employed when the 
zone of destination was unknown or im- 
material. The shipping designator for 
Zone I was Soxo, for Zone II, Glue. In 
October 1943, when Zone III was estab- 
lished in Northern Ireland, it became 
known as Bang. Normal allocations of 
cargo were: 41 percent to Zone I, 53 per- 
cent to Zone II, and 6 percent to Zone 
III.^' 

Both in the United States and in the 
United Kingdom, the packing and mark- 



ing of U.S. cargo had to be supervised and 
policed continually so as to detect lapses 
from prescribed procedures and insure im- 
provement. Within the theater the Trans- 
portation Corps regularly prepared in- 
spection reports noting deficiencies and 
making recommendations. Ross's staff^ 
sometimes suggested changes, such as an 
improved packing for .30-caliber rifles 
that was calculated to save approximately 
50 percent in shipping space. They made 
special studies of the packing and marking 
of spare parts for Quartermaster Corps 
items and those of other supply services. 
Despite continual improvement, inspec- 
tions of inbound U.S. Army cargo con- 
tinued to reveal occasional shortcomings. 
In April 1944 Ross complained of the loss 
of eggs in the shell because of poor crating 
and storing, and of field ranges packed in 
inadequate containers with wasted space. 
Nonetheless, considerable progress was 
made in packing and marking, and the 
major faults had been overcome.*** 

Organizational Equipment and Supplies 

In addition to the difficulties experi- 
enced because of faulty packing and 
marking, the theater was confronted with 



**' Ltr, Ryan to Gross, 23 Feb 43, with atchd buck 
slip notations by Coe and Gross, OCT 563.5 England 
(Zoning) 1943. 

"- Rad, USFOR London to WAR, 4 Apr 43, CM- 
IN 2746; Memo. ACofS for Opns ASF for CofT ASF, 
27 Apr 43, sub: Zoning of UK, OCT 563.5 England 
(Zoning) 43. 

**' See Chart of Cargo Arrivals by Zones, 30Jun 44, 
OCT 3 19. 1 ETO, G-4 Per Rpt, Sep 44. 

^* Interv, Capt Sidney H. Collins, Water Trans Sv 
Div OCT, 22 Oct 48, OCT HB ETO Marking and 
Packing; Item 2, 3d Semi-Monthly Rpt, Ross to Gross, 
30 Apr 43, and Item 1, 22d Semi- Monthly Rpt, Ross 
to Gross, 1 6 Feb 44, OCT 319.1 England; Memo, 
DCofF SOS ETO for CofF ASF, 3 Apr 44, sub: Semi- 
Monthly Rpt on Activities of Marine Opns Div, 16- 
3 1 Mar 44, and Memo, CofT SOS ETO for Cofr 
ASF, 3 Apr 44, sub: Rpt of Inspections of Incoming 
U.S. Army Cargoes, AG 319.1 Rpt to CofT Wash- 
ington. 



BUILD-UP IN BRITAIN 



97 



the problem of getting organizational 
equipment and supplies delivered prompt- 
ly, so that the troops could have them soon 
after arrival. Since troops moving to Brit- 
ain generally sailed on ships that traveled 
faster than the freighters carrying their 
impedimenta, a time lag was inevitable. 
Until production could be stepped up, the 
organizational equipment sent overseas 
frequently was that which the unit had 
used in training, and it could not be re- 
leased until unit training had been com- 
pleted. Even when all the organizational 
equipment for a given unit was loaded in 
the same convoy it might be spread over 
several cargo ships and discharged at dif- 
ferent British ports, necessitating further 
sorting and assembly in the theater. The 
uncertain troop basis for the United King- 
dom also made planning difficult.'''' 

In the first half of 1942 equipment short- 
ages in units leaving the United States 
were frequent, and they usually were filled 
by stripping other units in the zone of in- 
terior, leaving the latter with the task of 
replacement. During this period the units 
destined for the British Isles normally 
crated their own equipnient and "force 
marked" it before departing. Generally, 
such units did not receive their equipment 
until they had been overseas for at least 30 
days, but often not for 80 to 1 20 days. Be- 
hind this unsatisfactory situation lay the 
difficulty in locating and delivering the 
equipment after discharge at United 
Kingdom ports and the frequency of in- 
secure packing and poor marking, which 
delayed distribution within the theater. 
Apart from improved packing and mark- 
ing, the obvious remedy was the shipment 
of organizational equipment in advance of 
the troops, or, as it was commonly called, 
preshipment."*'' 

Accordingly, with a view to utilizing 
available cargo space and taking advan- 



tage of the long summer days for discharg- 
ing, General Gross pushed the advance 
shipment of ecjuipment and supplies to 
the United Kingdom. Unfortunately, 
many items preshipped during the sum- 
mer of 1942 became "buried" in British 
depots and could not be found when 
wanted for the North African invasion.**^ 
The blame for this state of affairs, which 
by September was so serious as to imperil 
the projected Torch operation, could be 
placed upon both the zone of interior and 
theater. Poor packing and marking in the 
United States and lack of depot and other 
service personnel and hasty port clearance 
and storage in the United Kingdom were 
the chief contributing factors. Ultimately, 
after much scurrying about on both sides 
of the Atlantic, Eisenhower's requirements 
were met, but on a reduced scale. The 
last-minute duplication of items, which 
presumably had been shipped in advance 
to the British Isles, left the War Depart- 
ment with an unfavorable impression of 
the preshipment program, despite the 
basic soundness of this approach to the 
problem of getting troop units and their 
impedimenta together soon after the ar- 
rival of the troops overseas.*^ 

'*'' For a detailed account, see Study, Richard M. 
Leigiiton, Hist Sec Contl Div ASF, The Problem of 
Troop and Cargo Flow in Preparing the European 
Invasion, 1943-44, Dec 45, passim, OCMH Files. See 
also. Gen Bd Rpt, USFET, Study 128, pp. 21-23, and 
Memo, Col Vissering, OCT, for ACofS for Opns SOS 
WD, 4 Nov 42, OCT HB Ocean Trans Packing and 
Packaging. 

*<« Memo, ACofS G-4 for TAG, 1 7 Jan 42, snh: 
Equip of Troops; Ltr, CofS USA to CG WDC, 1 3 Mar 
42. Both in G-4/33889. See also Gen Bd Rpt, Study 
128, cited n. 85, pp. 21-22. 

^' For additional details see below, pp. 142-43. 

^^ Memo. CofT SOS for CG NYPE, 8 Jul 42, sub: 
Shipt of Advance Cargo, OCT 563.5 NY; Memo, Lt 
Col Carter B. Magruder for Gen Lutes, 10 Jan 42, 
sub: Cargo for Bolero, OCT 544.2-565.1 England 41- 
42; Ltr, Lutes to Lee, 12 Sep 42, ASF UK Plans Files; 
Ltr, Ross to Gross, 21 Sep 42; Memo, ACofS for Opns 
SOS WD for CofT SOS, 29 Sep 42, OCT HB Gross 
ETO Gen Ross. 



98 



THE TRANSPORTATION CORPS 



The ensuing North African campaign 
stimulated interest in the handling of both 
personal and organizational equipment. 
As a result of his brief tour of duty in 
North Africa, and mindful of the implica- 
tions for the Transportation Corps, Ross 
spoke out against requiring soldiers to 
carry more equipment than they had need 
for.**'' Meanwhile, General Lee had sug- 
gested reducing the size and weight of the 
"A" and ''B" barracks bags, noting that 
the "B" type might contain anything from 
carbines to libraries."" In this connection 
Maj. Gen. Leonard T Gerow, then com- 
manding the 29th Infantry Division, pre- 
pared a staff study showing that substan- 
tial reduction could be made in the ton- 
nage of TAT (to accompany troops) equip- 
ment and supplies. On the other hand, 
such personal baggage and organizational 
equipment as might be loaded aboard the 
troopships took that much of a load off the 
freighters — an important consideration in 
view of the severe shortage of cargo ship- 
ping. 

Gerow stressed the fact that clothing 
and equipment shipped in bulk from de- 
pots was compactly packed, better crated, 
and required less space than that carried 
by individuals in barracks bags. He fur- 
ther suggested that, if stocks permitted, the 
heavy weapons and combat vehicles that 
could not accompany the troops be turned 
in by alerted divisions for reissue to new 
divisions being formed, and that the nec- 
essary replacements be shipped direct 
from the manufacturer to the United 
Kingdom, properly marked for the unit 
concerned. When the matter reached the 
theater commander late in December 
1942, he declared that it was highly im- 
portant to stock enough materiel in all 
categories to equip incoming units imme- 
diately upon arrival so as to reduce the 



loss of time in training, and directed that 
General Gerow's suggestions be thoroughly 
explored."^ 

Early in 1943 the Chief of Transporta- 
tion in Washington received a proposal 
from an Air Corps officer that organiza- 
tional equipment be shipped direct from 
depots or factories and issued to units 
upon arrival overseas. At about the same 
time, General Somervell, returning from a 
tour of the theaters, stressed the impor- 
tance of getting equipment to the theaters 
ahead of or at the same time as troops. ■'- 
Beginning in late February 1943 the Chief 
of Transportation actively agitated in the 
War Department for the adoption of a 
preshipment program. Such a program 
was of course subject to the availability of 
shipping, and would impose additional re- 
sponsibilities on the U.S. ports of embar- 
kation and the theater. Other difficulties 
could easily arise because of changes in 
priorities or destinations of units, prac- 
tices that were currently all too frequent. 



'*^ Memo, Ross for Somervell, 15 Jan 43, sub: Notes 
on Obsns in North Africa, OCT HB Wylie Urgent 
Matters 1943; Memo, ACofT SOS for ACofS OPD, 3 
Feb 43, sub: Impedimenta for Overseas Troops, OCT 
HB Meyer Stay backs. 

'"' Troops going overseas carried their personal 
equipment and gear in two barracks bags. The "A" 
bag, containing items required by troops during the 
voyage, was carried aboard by the soldier to his bunk. 
Other items were packed in the "B" bag, which was 
placed in the hold of the ship. 

■" For pertinent correspondence, 18 November-27 
December 1942, see AG 523.07 Hq SOS ETO 42 and 
43 Shipping Priorities, especially Ltr, Gerow to Lee, 
28 Nov 42, and 1st Ind, CG 29th Inf Div to CG 
ETOUSA, 12 Dec 42, and 2d Ind, Hq ETOUSA to 
CG SOS ETOUSA, 27 Dec 42. 

■'- Memo, Maj Paul A. Cunyus, AC, for CG ASC, 
2 Jan 43, sub: Mvmt of Air Sv Gp Overseas, OCT HB 
Ocean Trans Overseas Troop Mvmts; Memos, Somer- 
vell for Gross, 19 Feb 43, no sub, and Gross for Somer- 
vell, 23 Feb 43, sub: Reply to Your Obsns During In- 
spection Trip, OCT HB Exec Gen Somervell's 
Inspection Trip to Africa. 



BUILD-UP IN BRITAIN 



99 



But preshipment provided the only prac- 
tical means of achieving the desired end.'" 

Meanwhile, the European theater had 
recommended that each soldier embark- 
ing thereto carry a single barracks bag, 
and that the normal contents of the ''B'' 
bag, such as overshoes, extra blankets, and 
impregnated clothing, be shipped in bulk 
for issue to troops upon arrival. Except for 
general-purpose vehicles, all shipments of 
organizational equipment under the 
Tables of Basic Allowances were to be 
made in bulk. Additional service troops 
were requested to handle receipts and 
issues under the new plan, which was cal- 
culated to lessen damage to equipment in 
transit and to conserve shipping space. 
The prevailing system was termed unsatis- 
factory. From the training standpoint 
alone the theater was dissatisfied, and it 
cited many examples of delays and short- 
ages. Having received no reply to two 
cables dispatched in February 1943, the 
theater commander inquired again in 
March as to the status of his request, 
which he termed ''a matter of grave 
importance." '" 

In response to this prodding, Somervell 
informed the European theater on 8 
March 1943 that its situation was known 
and appreciated but that corrective action 
depended primarily on shipping cargo in 
advance of troops. Such preshipment was 
deemed currently undesirable because of 
(a) changing troop requirements usually 
caused by last-minute requests from the 
theater; (b) the shipping shortage and 
specifically the lack of cargo space on the 
large, fast troop carriers to the British 
Isles; and (c) the necessity of allowing the 
troops to retain their equipment for train- 
ing purposes as long as possible before 
movement overseas. Since simultaneous 
arrival of troops and cargo could not be 



effected, it was believed more practicable 
to have the troops arrive in the theater in 
advance of the equipment so as to assist 
in its unloading, assembly, distribution, 
and servicing.-''' 

However, the situation was already in 
process of change. As the result of deci- 
sions at Casablanca to undertake new 
Mediterranean operations, troop sailings 
to the United Kingdom scheduled for the 
second quarter of 1943 were cut back 
sharply. This made available approxi- 
mately 350,000 measurement tons of sur- 
plus cargo space, which had been allocated 
to carry equipment accompanying troops. 
Maximum utilization of this cargo space 
appeared essential, if the necessary sup- 
plies and equipment were to be provided 
for the very heavy troop movements that 
were contemplated during the latter part 
of the year. Moreover, advance shipment 
would take advantage of the summer 
months, when the long hours of daylight 
would minimize enemy air activity and 
permit maximum operations at the British 
ports. Although the planners in the War 
Department's Operations Division were 
mindful of the previous unfortunate ex- 
perience in connection with the North 
African invasion, they acceded to the de- 
sires of the theater and the Army Service 
Forces, and on 16 March endorsed pre- 
shipment in principle. By mid-April, ASF 



■" Memo, Lt Col Richard D. Meyer, Exec for Opns 
OCT, for Wylie, 9 Apr 43. OCT HB Wylie Cargo; 
4th Ind, Wylie. ACofT, to ACofS for Opns ASF. 4 
Apr 43, OCT HB Mever Stavbacks. 

'^ Memo, CG SOS ETO for CO SOS WD, 16 Jan 
43, sub: Individual Equip on Overseas Moves; Para- 
phrases of Cbls. ETO to AGWAR, 9 Feb 43, No. W- 
1509, and 12 Mar 43, No. 2303. All in AG 523.07 Hq 
SOS ETO 42 & 43 Shipping Priorities. Quote is from 
Cbl, 12 Mar 43. 

"^ Memo, CG SOS for CG ETO, 8 Mar 43, sub: 
T/BA for Units, OCT 400.33-413.77 England 43. 



100 



THE TRANSPORTATION CORPS 



had worked out the details of a limited 
preshipment program.'"' 

Under the ASF plan, preshipment was 
authorized for (1) organizational equip- 
ment, less general-purpose vehicles of 
units ordered to the United Kingdom, 
such equipment to be called to the port 
one month before the scheduled sailing 
date; (2) Class IV supplies and equipment 
to be requisitioned by the theater on the 
basis of the total troop strength;''" 
(3) boxed general-purpose vehicles and 
major items of equipment for which pro- 
duction exceeded current requirements 
for all units in the troop basis; and (4) a 
reserve of forty-five days of combat main- 
tenance for the entire troop basis. The 
movement of such cargo was to be effected 
as early as practicable, but in priority be- 
low that for meeting the needs of the North 
African theater, two Pacific operations, 
and the training requirements for troop 
units then in the United States or to be 
activated in 1943. Every effort, said Maj. 
Gen. LeRoy Lutes, must be made to re- 
lease cargo to the ports, even if unbalanced 
shipments should result. Boxed vehicles, 
tanks, prefabricated buildings, and other 
bulky items were especially desired. The 
prime requisite was immediate avail- 
ability.'"^ 

In May ASF secured Operations Divi- 
sion approval to further broaden the pre- 
shipment program. Since the troop basis 
set up for the theater was highly tentative, 
permission was granted to ship equip- 
ment for "type" rather than specific units. 
Thus equipment could be shipped in bulk 
for storage and ultimate issue to types of 
units that would eventually arrive in the 
United Kingdom."" By this time, the Bat- 
tle of the Atlantic had reached the turning 
point, and reduced shipping losses and 



greater vessel production pointed to an in- 
creasing cargo lift. 

The preshipment program soon ran 
into difficulty, largely because of continued 
uncertainty regarding the size of the 
troop build-up in Britain, the grave short- 
age of equipment and other available 
cargo, and the low priority accorded 
Bolero shipments through 1943.'"" 
Already subject to higher priority de- 
mands from active theaters and to re- 
quirements for training in the United 
States, the slender stockpile of organiza- 
tional equipment available in the zone of 
interior also had to be drawn upon for the 
rearmament of certain French divisions 
in North Africa. Although the domestic 
production of equipment increased, short- 
ages persisted in many items.'"' In these 
circumstances, only a limited amount of 

■"' Leighton study cited n. 85, pp. 6-12; Ruppen- 
thal, op. at., pp. 133-34; History of Planning Division, 
Army Service Forces, Vol. Ill, App. 5-D, Memo, 
Lutes for ACofS OPD, 16 Apr 43. sub: Cargo for UK, 
OCT HB. 

"" That is, supplies and equipment for which allow- 
ances are not prescribed, or which require special 
measures of control. Normally, Class IV includes con- 
struction materials and aircraft. See WD TM 20-205, 
Dictionary of United States Army Terms, 18 Jan 44, 
p. 62. 

"" Memo, ACofS for Opns ASF for Dir Stock Contl 
Div ASF, 17 Apr 43, sub: Cargo Shipts to UK, OCT 
HB Wylie Cargo; Rad, Hq ASF (Somervell) for CO 
ETO, 20 Apr 43, CM-OUT 8 1 65, OCT HB Wylie 
Shipping and Cargo for UK (1943-44). 

•'■' Ruppenthal, op. cit., p. 134. 

'"" Memo, CG ETO for TAG, 1 May 43, sub: 
Troop Basis and SOS Priorities, AG 400.22 (16 May 
43) (1), SOP for Shipts of Equip and Sup to UK; 
Memo, Gross for Somervell, 2 May 43, sub: UK 
Troop and Impedimenta Mvmts; and Memo, Gross 
for Stycr, 6 May 43. Last two in OCT HB Wylie 
Staybacks. 

"" On training allowances, see Leighton study 
cited n. 85, Ch. Ill; and on French rearmament, see 
ibid. pp. 93-101. See also. Memo, CG SOS ETO for 
TAG [19 Sep 43], sub: Bolero Supply Program, 
OCT HB ETO Ping and Preparation; and OCT HB 
Monograph 29, pp. 69-73. 



BUILD-UP IN BRITAIN 



101 



equijDment could be made available for 
preshipment. 

From the beginning preshipment 
lagged, and during the summer of 1943 it 
failed to attain the original objective — the 
maximum utilization of the available 
cargo space. In the period May through 
December 1943 advance shipments made 
from Boston and New York totaled 2,427,- 
646 measurement tons, or about 40 per- 
cent of all cargo shipped to the United 
Kingdom. By far the largest amount for- 
warded by a single technical service — the 
Ordnance Department — consisted of ve- 
hicles and ammunition. In no instance 
did any technical service ship all its cargo 
scheduled for movement. As will be seen, 
it was not until after late 1943, when a new 
high priority was accorded all equipment 
and supplies for the European theater, 
that sufficient cargo materialized to fill 
ax'ailable cargo space. In the first five 
months of 1944, advance shipments to the 
United Kingdom reached a • total of 
1,863,629 measurement tons. As before. 
Ordnance items predominated. '"- 

Although only a partial success, the 
preshipment program benefited the Army 
in the long run, since cargo shipped in 
advance meant that much less to be for- 
warded in the future. Apart from a very 
real value in easing the burden of shipping 
and cargo distribution in the theater dur- 
ing the crucial months preceding D Day, 
advance shipment offered three important 
advantages. First, more units could be as- 
sured of receiving reasonably complete 
equipment immediately upon arrival in 
the United Kingdom. Next, units about to 
be sent overseas could release their old 
equipment in the zone of interior, thus 
lessening oversea maintenance and re- 
placement in the theater. Lastly, equip- 



ment was sent factory-packed and factory- 
marked, thereby conserving shipping 
space and reducing substantially loss or 
damage en route. In reviewing the sub- 
ject in 1945, a general board, established 
in the European theater, concluded that 
advance shipment "solved to a most satis- 
factory extent the problem of promptly 
and properly equipping units arriving in 
the British Isles." "" 

Ships, Troops, and Cargo 
for the Build-up 

Under the Bolero program, the flow of 
troops and cargo fluctuated considerably 
with changes in the shipping situation, 
shifts in strategic planning, and higher 
priority demands arising in other oversea 
areas. These factors not only affected the 
volume of shipments that could be directed 
to the United Kingdom in any given pe- 
riod but also made it difficult to achieve a 
balance of vessels, troops, and cargo that 
would avoid either wasting precious ship 
space or holding men and materiel in idle- 
ness in the zone of interior. The delivery to 
Britain of the quantities of personnel, 
supplies, and equipment required for the 
invasion of the Continent proved a com- 
plex and often frustrating task. 

The job of transporting Bolero troops 
and cargo to the United Kingdom would 
have been even more difficult had not 
British assistance been available in the 
form of troop and cargo space. This was 
especially true of troop space because of 
the large and fast passenger liners the 
British Ministry of War Transport assigned 

'"- NYPE, Progress and Activities, Jan 44, p. 76, 
andjun 44, p. 10; 1st Ind, CG NYPE to CofT, 25 Jun 
45, and Incl 1. All in OCT HB NYPE. 

lo:! jsjYPE, Progress and Activities, Jan 44, p. 76; 
Gen Bd Rpt, Study 128, cited n. 85, p. 22. 



102 



THE TRANSPORTATION CORPS 



to the shuttle run between New York and 
the United Kingdom. During the period 
from 1 January 1942 through 31 May 
1944, ships under British control trans- 
ported a total of 1 ,006, 1 04 passengers from 
the United States to Britain.^'" 

The British were also able to furnish the 
Americans with a portion of their material 
requirements, thereby lightening the bur- 
den on shipping. Begun as a supply expe- 
dient during the extreme shipping crisis of 
1942, local procurement in the United 
Kingdom later developed into a regular 
practice with the U.S. Army. Theater rec- 
ords indicate that of a total of 23,237,407 
measurement tons of materials assembled 
in the United Kingdom from June 1942 
through May 1944, 9,191,117 measure- 
ment tons were supplied by the British.^'" 

Nevertheless, the bulk of the supplies 
and equipment needed in the European 
theater and practically all U.S. troops 
came directly from the United States and 
were delivered almost exclusively by 
water. The First Bolero Key Plan, 31 
May 1942, contemplated an ultimate U.S. 
troop strength in the British Isles of 
1,049,000 men, to be achieved as rapidly 
as shipping would allow. To secure the 
necessary troop lift, ships had to be drawn 
from all possible sources — the War Ship- 
ping Administration, the U.S. Navy, and 
the British Ministry of War Transport. 
With the help of the British Queens, the 
Wakefield and the West Point of the U.S. 
Navy, and a number of other Army, Navy, 
WSA, and BMWT vessels, U.S. troop 
movements to the United Kingdom grad- 
ually increased. During the period June- 
August 1942, debarkation of U. S. Army 
personnel in the United Kingdom totaled 
119,474.'"" 

Although the movement of troops to the 
United Kingdom had proceeded accord- 



ing to schedule, the concurrent shipments 
of cargo soon began to lag, but through no 
fault of the theater. Indeed, in June 1942 
Ross had advised Gross that the antici- 
pated heavy movements of cargo during 
the summer months would cause no port 
congestion in the theater as long as the 
arrivals were properly spaced. A lack of 
cargo in the States and a shortage of bot- 
toms accounted for the lag in the arrival of 
cargo in the United Kingdom. The latter 
was so pronounced that in August General 
Somervell complained to the War Ship- 
ping Administration of its failure to make 
cargo ships available as promised.^"' 

The recurring shortage of ships and 
cargo, together with losses at sea and de- 
mands of other theaters, caused the U.S. 
Army to fall considerably short of the ini- 
tial Bolero goal of 320,000 long tons to 
be discharged each month in the British 
Isles. During June, July, and August of 
1942 cargo landed monthly in the United 
Kingdom did not exceed 44 1 ,256 measure- 
ment tons (186,281 long tons).'"' 



"" See study, Col Marcus B. Stokes, Jr., Chief Ping 
Div OCT, 22 Mar 46, pp. 7, 12-1 3, OCT HB Topic 
Logistics; Ltr, British Jt Staff Mission (Maj F. D. Har- 
ris) to Col D. E. Farr, 12 Jan 45, with incls, OCT HB 
Topic British Shipping. 

'"■■ Memo, DCofS USA (Maj Gen Joseph T. Mc- 
Narney) for CO USAFBI. 16 May 42, sub: Estab of a 
Gen Purchasing Bd, OCT 319.2-370.45 England; 
LI.S. President, Seventeenth Report to Congress on Lend- 
Lease Operations, Reverse Lend-Lease Aid from the British 
Commonwealth of Nations, 24 Nov 44, pp. 9-10. 

""' Unless otherwise indicated, all statistics on per- 
sonnel debarkations in the United Kingdom are 
drawn from Table 1, p. 103. 

'"' Memo, Dep Chief Mvmts Division for Water 
Div OCT, 1 1 Jun 42, sub: Cargo for Bolero, Jun- 
Aug, and Memo, Chief Contl Br OCT for CG NYPE, 
21 Jun 42, sub: Cargo Ship Sailings to UK, OCT 
544.2-565.1 England 42; Ltr, Somervell to Rear Adm 
Emory Scott Land, 5 Aug 42, Hq ASF Shipping 42- 
43. 

'"^ For statistics on cargo discharged in the United 
Kingdom, sec Table 2, p. 104. 



BUILD-UP IN BRITAIN 



103 



Table 1 — U. S. Army Troops Debarked in the United Kingdom, by Port Area, 

January 1942-June 1944' 



Month 



Total . . . 

1942 

January 

February 

March 

April 

May 

June 

July 

August 

September 

October 

November 

December 

1943 

January 

February 

March 

April 

May 

June 

July 

August 

September 

October 

November 

December 

1944 

January 

February 

March 

April 

May 

June 



All 


Ports 
















Northern 
Ireland 


Mersey 


Bristol 
Channel 


Clyde 








Other •> 


Cumulative 


Monthly 














1,792,512 


104, 459 


580, 340 


166,115 


937,654 


3,944 


4,058 


4,058 


4,058 














4,058 




















11,962 


7,904 


7,904 














11,962 




















36, 644 


24, 682 


22,113 


431 


2,121 


17 





56, 090 


19, 446 


7,130 


90 





12,226 





82, 249 


26, 159 


272 


7,385 


2 


18,500 





156,118 


73, 869 


2,545 


17,718 


13,538 


40, 068 





184,927 


28, 809 


325 


143 


16 


28,325 





224, 765 


39, 838 


44 


6,526 


3,897 


29, 356 


15 


232,517 


7,752 


152 


512 


170 


6,918 





241,839 


9, 322 


262 


15 


10 


9,035 





255, 190 


13,351 





370 


560 


12,421 





256, 596 


1,406 





778 


471 


157 





257, 873 


1,277 





620 


185 


472 





259,951 


2,078 





1,574 


501 


3 





279, 171 


19, 220 





9 


268 


18,943 





329, 143 


49, 972 





5,774 


626 


43,571 


1 


382,417 


53,274 


171 


11,936 


176 


40, 748 


143 


424, 098 


41,681 


1 


10, 445 


178 


31,021 


36 


505,214 


81,116 


1 


36, 156 


5, 400 


39, 533 


26 


610, 771 


105,557 


13,893 


34,017 


13, 798 


42, 756 


1,093 


784,631 


173,860 





60, 168 


19, 723 


93, 888 


71 


918,347 


113,716 


21,741 


32, 193 


7,263 


72,335 


184 


1, 084, 752 


166, 405 


5,391 


62,007 


23, 120 


75, 866 


21 


1,221,436 


136,684 


4,898 


48, 585 


14,937 


67, 916 


348 


1, 345, 848 


124,412 


2,660 


36, 087 


16, 447 


68, 359 


859 


1, 562, 547 


216,699 


10, 898 


79,817 


28,388 


c 97, 373 


223 


1,671,010 


108, 463 





70, 505 


13,814 


23,356 


788 


1,792,512 


121,502 





56, 479 


506 


64, 491 


26 



» Troops debarked include personnel redeployed from Iceland and Mediterranean as well as shipments from the United States. 

•> Other ports include those in the Humber, Thames, and Scottish East areas. 

"^The figure for debarkations in Clyde area during April 1944, listed as 105,987 in the TC Historical Report, Volume III. has been cor- 
rected to conform to later consolidated and cumulative data. 

Source: Hist Rpt, TC ETO, Vol. Ill, Ch. VI, Table, UK Troop Arrivals by Port Areas, January 1942-June 1944, OCT HB ETO; TC 
SOS ETO MPR, 30 Jun 44, Table 1, U. S. Troops Debarked Monthly in the United Kingdom, AG Adm 451 ETO. 



104 



THE TRANSPORTATION CORPS 



Table 2 — U. S. Army Cargo Landed in the United Kingdom, by Port Area, January 

1942-JuNE 1944 

(Measurement Tons) 



All Ports 



Month 



Cumulative Monthly 



Total : 15,573,989 



1942 



January. . 
February. 
March . . . 
April .... 

May 

June 

July 

August . . 



23, 
58, 

..! 176, 
..\ 279, 
.} 472, 
914, 
September 1, 511, 



October. . . 
November. 
December. 



1943 



January. . . 
February. . 
March. . . . 

April 

May 

June 

July 

August . . . 
September. 
October. . . 
November. 
December. 



1,873, 
2, 039, 
2, 179, 



411 

476 
398 
257 
415 
092 
927 
183 
471 
834 
834 
996 



2, 297, 909 
2,373,475 
2, 439, 242 
2, 550, 487 
2,637,543 

2, 986, 443 

3, 656, 467 

4, 409, 896 
5,187,998 

6, 144, 886 
6,935,640 

7, 943, 790 



1944 



January 8,830,149 

February 9,646,097 

March 11,089,345 

April I 12,567,996 

May 14,050,290 

June I 15,573,989 



23, 
34, 
15, 
102, 
102, 
193, 
441, 
597, 
362, 
165, 
140, 



411 

065 
922 
859 
158 
677 
835 
256 
288 
363 
503 
659 



117,913 

75, 566 

65, 767 

111,245 

87, 056 

348, 900 

670, 024 

753, 429 

778, 102 

956, 888 

790, 754 

1,008.150 



886,359 
815,948 
1,443,248 
1,478,651 
1,482,294 
1,523,699 



Northern 
Ireland 



Mersey 



Clyde 



Bristol 

Channel 



Humber 



Other 



559, 888 



411 

23,065 

34, 922 

15,589 

34,256 

59, 440 

38,421 

58, 762 

16, 825 

7,140 

3,013 

1,933 



1,079 

744 









13,643 

53, 094 

20, 440 

22, 163 

11,177 

30, 827 



14,511 

48, 872 

26, 856 

17,887 

2,480 

2,068 



5,160,855 1,401,796 ;5, 588,682 1,284,973 1,577,795 








28,938 

24,451 

119,675 

151,969 

256,933 

268, 100 

95,614 

82,971 



56, 723 

45, 049 

24, 208 

32, 064 

12,245 

103,423 

229,157 

185,482 

206, 682 

259, 652 

219,905 

227, 448 



285, 260 
205, 761 
427, 301 
367, 746 
627, 668 
616,430 









21,488 
12, 742 
12,405 
31,355 
75, 464 
39, 358 
35,423 
13,916 



142 
4, 304 
3, 814 
12,015 
43,967 
43,631 
46, 495 
75,891 
49, 109 
60, 182 
43, 381 



71, 800 

81,616 

128,787 

82, 02.6 

131,691 

264, 152 








1,651 

4,558 

23, 334 

167, 893 

180,316 

35,036 

31,117 

31,881 



16,642 36,540 



25, 943 

34,212 

J}, 548 

55, 195 

170,703 

272,977 

302,217 

301, 760 
340, 348 

302, 880 
453, 548 



301,119 

314,367 
638, 062 
692,958 
417,897 
378,622 









842 





24, 706 

54, 775 

9,015 

336 

7, 385 



1,590 



470 

1,031 

3,461 

6,671 

40, 575 

48, 280 

72, 596 

73, 297 

85,491 

94, 040 



71,893 

45, 647 

86, 237 

119,978 

219,679 

216,978 








14, 983 

1,486 



6, 571 

12,975 

3, 714 



2. 573 



5, 339 

3,688 

2,573 

788 

4,140 

24, 136 

70,041 

117,861 

100, 733 

212,319 

111,119 

158,906 



141,776 
119,685 
136,005 
198,056 
82, 879 
45, 449 



Source: TC SOS ETO MPR, 30 Jun 44, Table 6B— U. S. Army Cargo by Port Areas— Measurement Tons, AG Adm 451 ETO. 



BUILD-UP IN BRITAIN 



105 



Despite severe handicaps, at the close of 
August 1942 some progress had been made 
in expediting the delivery of troops and 
cargo for the Bolero program. After that 
month and in fact until well into 1943, 
because of the requirements of the North 
African campaign, the flow of both men 
and materiel to the British Isles was 
sharply reduced, although it was never 
entirely halted. In September 1942 the 
number of incoming U.S. military person- 
nel fell to 28,809, as compared with 73,869 
in the preceding month. During the period 
from October 1942 through April 1943 
troop debarkations totaled only 75,024. 
The discharge of U.S. Army cargo at Brit- 
ish ports was similarly alTected, declining 
from 362,363 measurement tons in Octo- 
ber 1942 to only 65,767 measurement tons 
in March 1943. 

The North African invasion not only 
reduced Bolero traffic to a trickle but also 
drew heavily on the men and materials 
already assembled in the United King- 
dom. In the period from October 1942 
through February 1943, a total of 150,693 
troops and 348,905 long tons of cargo was 
shipped from the United Kingdom. As a 
result of these outloadings, actual troop 
strength in the United Kingdom declined 
from 223,794 to 104,510, and a serious 
supply shortage developed. Thereafter, the 
United States met most of the North Afri- 
can requirements, and few troops and only 
modest amounts of cargo were forwarded 
from the United Kingdom, but a drain 
had been placed on Bolero from which 
the European theater did not soon re- 
cover.^"" 

Revival of the hard-hit Bolero program 
hinged primarily upon getting enough 
ships to lift the troops and cargo required 
to undertake an invasionof the Continent. 
Referring to the world-wide shipping situ- 



ation General Somervell observed, "Our 
plans to carry out a determined and effec- 
tive offensive during 1943 and to strike 
further decisive blows in 1944 are meas- 
ured almost entirely by the shipping which 
can be made available for military opera- 
tions." "" 

In the spring of 1943 the available ship- 
ping for the United Kingdom was not in 
balance. Cargo space was in excess because 
it had been allocated on the basis of a 
troop build-up that had so dwindled that 
fewer than 5,000 men actually debarked 
during the three months from 1 February 
through 30 April. This was one of the con- 
siderations that led to the preshipment 
plan whereby the available cargo vessels 
were to be utilized for the advance ship- 
ment of organizational equipment and 
supplies to Britain so that incoming Amer- 
ican troops would find their impedimenta 
on hand upon arrival. ' ' ' In this connection 
Brig. Gen. Robert H. Wylie, Assistant 
Chief of Transportation, in Washington, 
recommended that supplies for Bolero be 
forwarded as early as possible, irrespective 
of the monthly troop movement schedule. 
Wylie had noted the difficulties that arose 
in the British Isles because of the small 
number of widely dispersed depots, the 
inadequate transportation facilities, the 
shortage of manpower for distribution and 
warehousing, and the resultant time lag in 
the assembly, or "marrying up," of troop 



""> Hist Rpt, TC ETO, Vol. I, App. 8, OCT HB 
ETO; Ruppcnthal. op. al.. pp. 87-1 13. 

"» Memo, CG SOS for CofS USA, 25 Mar 43, sub: 
Proposed Allocation of U.S. Shipping, Hq ASF Ship- 
ping 42-43. 

"1 Memo, Lt Col D. E. Farr, Mvmts Div OCT, for 
Chief Theater Gp OPD. 19 Feb 43, sub: Projected At- 
lantic Shipping; Rad, USFOR London to AGWAR, 
18 Mar 43, CM-IN 9667; Ltr, Gross to Lee, 3 Apr 43, 
OCT 370.5. Sec also Ruppenthal, op. cil., pp. 
132-34. 



106 



THE TRANSPORTATION CORPS 



units and their equipment. The problem 
was further aggravated by the fact that 
approximately ten cargo ships were re- 
quired to bring the organizational equip- 
ment and supplies for the men aboard only 
one of the Qiieens. ' ' - 

Despite hopeful planning it was not easy 
to achieve a balance between the available 
cargo and cargo space for the United 
Kingdom. Efforts to fill the ships often 
were hampered by the failure of organiza- 
tional impedimenta to arrive at the port as 
expected. Because of the unsatisfactory 
training status of the units involved, their 
equipment could not be released in time 
for shipment. On 15 April 1943 the Water 
Division in Washington, which had gen- 
eral supervision of the movement of cargo 
for the build-up, reported that, instead of 
the estimated 79,000 measurement tons, 
the total organizational equipment avail- 
able for April shipment would do well to 
total 18,000 measurement tons. Various 
items scheduled to move either failed to 
materialize or took less space than origi- 
nally estimated. Cargo listed as immedi- 
ately available often did not reach the port 
until much later. To avoid unused ship 
space, the Transportation Corps shipped 
what cargo could be obtained. Ross nat- 
urally complained. With limited Army 
port personnel and the prevailing shortage 
of British labor, he looked for trouble from 
inbound cargoes that included a wide 
variety of supplies and involved an unusual 
amount of sorting. "^ 

Despite a marked increase in shipments 
of Bolero cargo during the last half of 
1943, more cargo space was offered than 
could be filled. Cargo discharged in the 
United Kingdom increased from 348,900 
measurement tons in June to 670,024 
measurement tons in July, and with the 
exception of a dip in November continued 
to increase, reaching a peak of 1,008,150 



measurement tons in December. Never- 
theless, the tonnage shipped fell far short 
of the total scheduled for movement. 
Largely because of the low priority given 
the European theater and the still lower 
priority given cargo for preshipment, a 
large part of the material requested by the 
theater simply could not be sent, despite 
the constant effort by ASF headquarters, 
the Office of the Chief of Transportation, 
and the New York Port of Embarkation to 
fill available shipping space. Periodic cal- 
culations of the Water Division included 
ominous figures under the heading, "Ad- 
ditional Cargo Required to Fill Shipping 
Space Available." "^ The cargo estimate 
for November 1943, in particular, noted a 
shortage of 467,000 measurement tons, 
despite the pressure the Water Division 
continuously exerted to get cargo to the 
ports.^^ ' 



''- Memo, Wylie for Chief Ping Div OCT, 8 Apr 
43, sub: Data for Gen Somervell, OCT HB Wylie 
Staybacks; Memo, ACofT for CO SOS, 9 Apr 43, sub: 
Data on Shipping Situation, Hq ASF Shipping 42-43. 

>'■' Memo, Col Vissering for Gen Wylie, OCT, 9 
Apr 43, sub: Cargo for UK; Memo, Vissering for 
Chief Water Div OCT, 15 Apr 43, same sub; Memo, 
Vissering for Gross, 3 May 43, sub: Daily Rpt of UK 
Cargo; Rad, USFOR London to WAR, 30 Apr 43, 
CM-IN 18171. All in OCT HB Wylie Shipping and 
Cargo for UK (1943-44). 

'"Memo, Vissering for ColT, 18 May 43, sub: 
Cargo for Shipt to UK; Memo, Vissering for CofT, 1 
Jun 43, sub: Cargo Situation; Memo, Maj M. E. 
Sprague for Gen Gross, 20 Aug 43, sub: Revised Car- 
go Sailings to UK. All in OCT HB Wylie Shipping 
and Cargo for UK (1943-44). Ltr, Wylie to Ross, 19 
Jul 43, OCT 370.5; Memo, Col Stokes, OCT, for Som- 
ervell, 19 Aug 43, sub: Revised UK Cargo Shipping 
Program, Hq ASF Trans 43; Memo, Col Meyer, 
OCT, for Chief Water Div, 1 Nov 43, OCT HB 
Meyer Staybacks. On the European theater's low pri- 
ority see Leighton study cited n. 85. 

" ' See various documents in OCT HB Gross Ship- 
ping Capabilities and Rqmts. Also note Gross buck 
slip attached to Cargo Estimate, UK, Water Div, 
OCT, 1 Dec 43, OCT HB Wylie Shipping and Cargo 
for UK (1943-44); and Memo, Col Meyer, OCT, for 
Dir Sup ASF, 4 Dec 43, sub: UK Cargo, OCT 563.5 
England Sep-Dec 43. Cf Wardlow, Movements , Train- 
im;. ant/ Sii/ip/y, pp. 155-57. 



BUILD-UP IN BRITAIN 



107 



The scarcity of Bolero cargo was well 
known to both Somervell and Gross. In- 
deed, further serious shortages were antici- 
pated because of the requirements of forces 
in other theaters, changes in the strategic 
situation, and production uncertainties in 
the zone of interior.'"' The situation was 
viewed with grave misgivings. As one ob- 
server noted, if the theater's requirements 
were as large as projected, then the con- 
tinuous failure to ship the desired amounts 
could lead to "an impossible backlog" of 
cargo to be moved during the spring of 
1944, conceivably necessitating revision of 
the strategic plan. ' ' ' 

During this period the build-up of 
troops, like that of cargo, did not proceed 
according to plan. After reaching a low 
point in March 1943, troop arrivals gradu- 
ally increased. Throughout the summer 
and fall the trend was upward, except in 
August when heavy movements for the 
September invasion of the Italian main- 
land led to a sharp drop in personnel sent 
to the United Kingdom. By October, how- 
ever, it had become evident that the 
Bolero troop movement was falling be- 
hind the estimate projected at Quadrant. 
The Transportation Corps was not meet- 
ing its commitments because of a shortage 
in troop space, aggravated by delays in 
deliveries of converted ships. The prevail- 
ing trend, if continued, could bring a defi- 
cit of approximately 75,000 men, or 
roughly five divisions, by the invasion 
date."'' 

The failure to move the planned troops 
and cargo meant that the resulting defi- 
ciencies would have to be made up in the 
remaining months before the invasion. 
This had to be accomplished, regardless of 
the pressure this last-minute effort was 
bound to exert upon the overburdened 
ports and railways of Britain. So far as 
troops were concerned, the requirements 



were met, but only by heavy debarkations, 
which reached a peak of 216,699 men in 
April 1944. Indeed, more troops arrived 
in the six months ending 31 May 1944, 
than in the entire period from January 
1942 through November 1943. 

Meanwhile, the War Department had 
taken steps to eliminate a major obstacle 
in the flow of cargo. On 21 December 
1943, it removed the low priority assigned 
to materials moving into the European 
theater, and replaced it with a new high 
priority for all equipment and supplies, in- 
cluding the special requirements of opera- 
tional projects.''-' This measure, coupled 
with increased domestic production, soon 
brought a flood of cargo to the Atlantic 
seaboard. The main limiting factor then 
became the capacity of the ports, railways, 
and depots of the United Kingdom. By 
March 1944, the increase in the amount of 
cargo available was reflected in the dis- 
charge of record tonnages in the United 
Kingdom. From December 1943 through 
May 1944 a total of 7,115,356 measure- 
ment tons was discharged, as contrasted 
with the 6,935,640 measurement tons pre- 
viously landed in the United Kingdom. 
In the three months ending 31 May 1944 
alone 4,404,193 measurement tons were 
unloaded. 

Although postponement of the invasion 
to the first week in June provided an addi- 



'''' See Cargo Estimates; Memo, Chief Water Div 
OCT for Actg CofT. 26 Oct 43, sub: Cargo Estimates 
for LIK; Memo, Actg Dir Stock Contl Div ASF for Dir 
of Sup xA.SF, 30 Oct 43, sub: Analysis of Projected 
Tonnage for UK. All in OCT HB Wylie Shipping 
and Cargo for UK (1943-44). 

"' Memo, Vissering for ACofT for Opns, 1 1 Nov 
43, sub: Availability of Cargo for UK, OCT HB Wy- 
lie Shipping and Cargo for LIK ( 1943-44). 

"^ Memo, Col Farr, Mvmts Div OCT, for Wylie, 4 
Oct 43. sub: Conversions, OCT HB Mvmts Div Farr 
Staybacks. 

"" Immediate Action Ltr, 21 Dec 43, sub: Priorities 
for ETO (UK), AG 400.22 (5-16-43) (1) Sec lA. For 
details see Leighton study cited n. 85, Ch. \'n. 



108 



THE TRANSPORTATION CORPS 



tional month for discharge operations, it 
was still a tight squeeze to satisfy the cargo 
requirements of the U.S. Army within the 
prescribed time limit. Various expedients 
had to be employed in order to minimize 
possible port, rail, and depot congestion in 
the British Isles. After conferring with the 
theater. General Gross set up a special 
pool of fifty-four "prestowed" vessels, 
which were to be used primarily as float- 
ing warehouses. Carrying general cargo 
and ammunition in balanced lots, these 
ships were to move to the United King- 
dom, where they would remain until 
called forward by the theater commander 
for discharge directly on the Continent. 
This plan avoided the necessity of dis- 
charging, storing, and reloading the cargo 
in the United Kingdom.'-" 

The last-minute expedients also in- 
cluded the so-called "commodity loaders." 
These were vessels loaded with a specific 
type of cargo, such as rations, vehicles, or 
ammunition, to fill an immediate on-the- 
spot requirement. Designed for easy dis- 
charge and quick dispatch of the cargo to 
dumps in the assault area, the ships were 
not restricted in number as were the pre- 
stowed vessels, and they did not require as 
elaborate advance planning.'-' 

Both the prestowed and the commodity- 
loaded vessels generally entailed a loss of 
cargo space, since they usually could not 
be loaded "full and down." They played 
an important role in the invasion of the 
Continent, but their use as floating depots 
drew sharp criticism because it immobi- 
lized ships urgently needed as carriers in 
both the Atlantic and the Pacific. 

The use of prestowed and commodity- 
loaded vessels provided only partial relief 
for the hard-pressed transportation facili- 
ties in the United Kingdom. Ships in- 
tended for discharge on the Continent were 



not dispatched to Britain before May 
1944. Meanwhile, the U.K. ports and in- 
land carriers had begun to show signs of 
congestion. Cargo piled up at the ports, 
particularly in the Bristol Channel area, 
and the British had to place embargoes on 
civilian rail traffic in order to keep the lines 
clear for military freight and to prevent 
bottlenecks at important junctions. In 
these circumstances, although there al- 
ready was a backlog of cargo at the New 
York Port of Embarkation, the theater de- 
cided to reduce the monthly discharge 
ceiling for U.K. ports for May and June 
from 140 to 120 ships. Actual vessel ar- 
rivals during May, however, exceeded the 
ceiling. Moreover, the mounting of the 
cross-Channel invasion, begun in the same 
month, further limited the capacity of the 
ports and the means of interior transport. 
As a result, berths could not be found for 
thirty-eight vessels, which had to lie idle at 
anchor. To deal with this situation, the the- 
ater made preparations to place much of 
the cargo from these ships in temporary 
dumps behind the port areas, but this 
proved unnecessary. Through careful 
Transportation Corps planning all cargo 
was discharged and forwarded to destina- 
tion. Nevertheless, the problem of finding 
sufficient port capacity was not completely 
solved until shortly before D Day, when 



' -■" Memo, Dir Ping Div ASF for CofT, 14 Apr 44, 
sub: Ships for UK in May and June, and Memo, Dep 
Dir for Plans and Opns ASF for CG ASF, 18 Apr 44, 
sub: Status of Shipping to UK, OCT HB Wylie Ship- 
ping and Cargo for UK (1943-44). 

'-' On the prestowed and commodity-loaded ships, 
see Leighton study cited n. 85, pp. 133-37; OCT HB 
Monograph 29, pp. 76-77; and ASF MPR Sec. 3, Dec 
44, p. 56. On the cargo of prestowed ships, which in- 
cluded rations, lumber, steel landing mats, and am- 
munition, see loading plans of 22 February, 8 and 1 7 
March 1944, prepared by Overseas Supply Division. 
New York Port of Embarkation (OCT HB ETO 
Shi|j|)ing). 



BUILD-UP IN BRITAIN 



109 



the British agreed to a reduction in their 
import program.'-- Despite diversions, de- 
lays, and uncertainty, the Bolero pro- 
gram was successful in bringing to the 
United Kingdom the men and materials 
needed for the assault on the Continent. 

Port Operations 

The first requisite for the smooth flow of 
troops and supplies into the United King- 
dom was efficient port operations. When 
Colonel Ross reached the British Isles, the 
U.S. Army already had a small port organ- 
ization in Northern Ireland. Soon there- 
after he extended American port activity 
to the Glasgow, Liverpool, and Bristol 
Channel areas, all of which had the great 
advantage of being relatively safe from 
enemy action by air and by sea. Subse- 
quently, as the need arose, he placed 
organizations at other ports, notably at 
London and Southampton. 

With respect to the ports, the theater 
chief of transportation had two major sets 
of problems. The first was primarily organ- 
izational and fell almost wholly within the 
purview of the U.S. Army as it functioned 
within the theater. The second was mainly 
operational and had broader and more 
intricate aspects, involving as it did the 
use of British port facilities and British 
labor to meet varying American needs. It 
must also be remembered that, regardless 
of their importance, the requirements of 
the U.S. Army never constituted more 
than a fraction of the enormous tonnages 
that had to be delivered through U.K. 
ports to support the civilian population 
and the wartime economy of Great Brit- 
ain. During the course of the war, the Brit- 
ish imported approximately 25,000,000 
long tons per year, roughly ten times the 
total U.S. cargo discharged in the United 
Kingdom during 1943.^-^ 



From the organizational standpoint, the 
theater chief of transportation was ham- 
pered by not having a free hand in the 
management of U.S. Army port activity. 
As already indicated, the assignment of 
control of the ports to the base sections 
limited him to technical supervision, al- 
though of necessity he dealt directly with 
the port commanders on a day-to-day 
operating basis. General Ross never ap- 
proved of the arrangement. From his point 
of view, subordinating the ports to the 
base sections simply meant interposing an- 
other headquarters between his oflSce and 
the port commander. Interference by a 
base section commander, no matter how 
well-intentioned, could and on occasion 
did seriously upset port operations. Al- 
though much depended upon the person- 
alities involved, the arrangement was con- 
ducive to misunderstandings and bicker- 
ing. In particular, as D Day approached 
and time grew short and tempers shorter, 
the relations between the staffs of the the- 
ater chief of transportation and the South- 
ern Base Section became strained, since 
they did not see eye to eye on the outload- 
ing of troops and cargo for the Normandy 
invasion. The port personnel also objected 
to the interference of the Southern Base 
Section in technical matters.'-' 

Another major organizational problem 
involved the development of American 
port organizations suited to operations in 
the United Kingdom. The initial head- 
quarters organization provided by the War 
Department was the so-called mobile port. 



'-- Ruppenthal, op. at., pp. 236-39; Hist Rpt, TC 
ETO. Vol. II. pp. ll-13a. Vol. Ill, Ch. Ill, pp. 7-8, 
OCT HB ETO. 

^-^ See Ruppenthal, op. cit., pp. 147-48. 

'■-^ Ltrs, Ross to Larson, 9 Mar and 5 Dec 49; In- 
tervs, Larson with Col D. W. Traub, 2 1 Mar 50, and 
with Lt Col Ivan L. Brenneman, 22 Mar 50. All in 
OCT HB ETO UK Ports. 



no 



THE TRANSPORTATION CORPS 



with a staff that supervised port operations 
and performed the necessary administra- 
tive and supply functions.'-' Ross soon 
found this unit inadequate for his needs. 
Also, since no two ports had to deal with 
exactly the same shipping problems, he 
proposed a flexible organization, with the 
strength dependent on the workload.'-" 

While flexibility was obviously necessary 
as a means of meeting local requirements, 
the new Table of Organization and Equip- 
ment for a major port headquarters (over- 
sea), approved in November 1943, called 
for a reduction in the normal strength from 
579 to 519 officers and men. The resultant 
reorganization was effected at the several 
ports in the United Kingdom early in 
1944. Headed by a port commander, who 
might have the rank of brigadier general, 
the new port headquarters was designed 
to function with two port directors: one for 
services (including administration and the 
several supply services); and the other for 
operations (including a transportation di- 
vision and a water division). Port battal- 
ions. Quartermaster truck com.panies, 
harbor craft units, ship maintenance and 
repair companies, and other service and 
operating units were to be attached as re- 
quired by local conditions and the amount 
of traffic to be handled.' '' 

The personnel provided to man the U.S. 
port organizations were often a source of 
disappointment to the theater chief of 
transportation. Although he realized that 
the Transportation Corps faced a growing 
scarcity of qualified technicians, he ob- 
jected to being given officers who were 
unable or unwilling to adapt themselves to 
operating conditions. Admitting that on 
occasion he had been overly critical of 
some personnel sent to him from the zone 
of interior, Ross reminded Gross in June 
1944 that it had been necessary to relieve 



more than half the port commanders origi- 
nally assigned to the United Kingdom.'-^ 

The port organizational problems, how- 
ever, were minor in comparison with those 
in the operational category. Although the 
British ports were among the best in the 
world, they lacked modern equipment 
when judged by American standards, had 
suffered from enemy air raids, and were 
very poorly manned. The longshore labor 
force was seriously depleted, military serv- 
ice having drawn off many of the younger 
and more efficient men. In the beginning 
the British Sea Transport Service of neces- 
sity took charge of berthing and unloading 
all American vessels, and British move- 
ment control officers regulated the inland 
traffic to and from the ports. As rapidly as 
possible, the theater chief of transportation 
arranged to assume these functions for the 
U.S. Army, in line with his determination 
to develop a transportation organization 
that could operate independently. It was 
impracticable to assign separate ports en- 
tirely to the Americans but the U.S. Army 
was gradually given control of American 
ships in British ports. This transfer had 
been largely completed by 1943.^-'' 

From the outset, Ross counted on the 
maximum utilization of British port equip- 
ment and British labor, but he realized 
that the local resources would have to be 



^-^ The term "mobile," used to indicate that the 
organization could be shifted from one port to another 
as the need arose, was later dropped. 

'-'' Memo, Ross for Gross, 27 Feb 43, sub: Port 
Equip and T/O, OCT 563.5 England (T/BA Equip) 
1943; Ltr, Ross to Gross, 29 Jun 43, OCT 319. 1 Eng- 
land. 

'-■ WD T/O&E 55-110-1, 20 Nov 43; Hist Rpt, 
TC ETO, II, 43, OCT HB ETO. 

'-" Ltr, Ross to Gross, 26 Oct 43, OCT 320.2 Eng- 
land 43; Ltrs, Ross to Gross, 30Jun, 15Jul 43, 6 and 
30 Jun 44, and Gross to Ross, 14 and 28 Jul, 21 Aug, 
2 Nov 43, 19 Jun 44, OCT HB Gross ETO— Gen 
Ross. 

'-■'Story of Trans in UK, pp. 15, 23-24, 26-27. 



BUILD-UP IN BRITAIN 



supplemented from the United States. In 
mid-May 1942 he requisitioned sufficient 
American equipment to operate twenty- 
four berths simultaneously, and in June he 
foresaw an ultimate need of sixteen port 
battalions and eight service battalions. 
Shortly thereafter, British port facilities 
capable of handling 120 ships a month 
were allocated to the U.S. Army.' '" 

As additional cargo-handling equip- 
ment arrived from the United States, in- 
cluding that brought by various port units, 
the shortcomings of the British installations 
were partially offset. A port survey by a 
qualified American civilian in December 
1942 pointed out the advantages to be 
gained by further modernization, but 
neither Ross nor Gross was certain that 
the British would use equipment such as 
fork-lift trucks. In March 1943 Gross re- 
marked that the reluctance of union labor 
in the United Kingdom to employ labor- 
saving devices presented a problem diffi- 
cult of solution. Yet he hoped, somewhat 
too optimistically as events were to prove, 
that the use of modern equipment by 
American port battalions would eventu- 
ally lead the British port authorities to 
appreciate its desirability and to request 
its adoption.'"" 

Apart from inadequate facilities and 
equipment, the principal limiting factor at 
the ports was the grave shortage of labor, 
which persisted throughout 1942 and well 
into the next year. The pinch began to be 
felt most severely in the summer of 1943, 
when incoming tonnage was on the in- 
crease after the comparative lull during 
the North African campaign. It was a 
common practice to assign only enough 
men to work one or two hatches. Even 
when enough British labor was available, 
the Army might get only six hours for eight 
hours of pay. Americans found it hard to 



appreciate the British custom of taking 
"tea breaks" in the morning and after- 
noon. When the dockers took the break 
first and were followed a little later by the 
crane operators, operations might be 
halted from forty minutes to an hour, since 
the dockers could not function without 
cranes. '•*'-' 

During that summer strikes and dis- 
putes over wages and hours, combined 
with a scarcity of longshore labor and un- 
satisfactory performance by men on the 
job, slowed the discharge of U.S. Army 
cargo and delayed the turnaround of 
American ships in United Kingdom ports. 
British authorities had hitherto been re- 
luctant to concede the necessity of employ- 
ing U.S. military personnel for handling 
cargo, but by mid-July 1943 a lack of 
civilian longshoremen had developed in 
practically every area, the shortage aver- 
aging 850 men per day in all ports. In 
view of this development, the British 
finally conceded that U.S. troops would 
have to be used. During August the gen- 
eral labor shortage became more acute, 
and practically all vessels were delayed in 
discharging because of insufficient labor. 
Ross therefore requested the shipment of 
nine more port battalions as rapidly as 
possible, which would complete the fifteen 



' ■" Memo, CofT SOS ETO for CG SOS ETO, 6 
Jul 42, sub: Trans Plan and Rqmts for Bolero, OCT 
HB Gross ETO — Gen Ross; Ltr, Ross to Gross, 19 
Jun 42, OCT HB Gross Day File; Memo of Conv, 
Ross with Mr. Donald, Asst to Dir Ports, and Mr. 
Ford, Div Supt South Wales Dist, Gen Supt Great 
Western RR, 2 Jun 42. OCT HB ETO Bristol Chan- 
nel Ports. 

'■"Ltr, Ezra W. Clark to Somervell, 17 Feb 43; 
Memo, Ross for Gross, 27 Feb 43, sub: Port Equip and 
T/O, and 1st Ind, CofT SOS to CG SOS, 13 Mar 43. 
All in OCT 563.5 England (T/BA Equip) 43. 

'■■'■- Ltrs, Ross to Gross, 17 Aug 43, OCT HB Gross 
ETO— Gen Ross; Personal Obsn, Lt Col Leo J. 
Meyer, 1 Mar 49, former port commander at Sou- 
thampton, OCT HB ETO Ports. 



112 



THE TRANSPORTATION CORPS 



units allotted to the Bolero program.'" 
The arrival of additional American 
port battalions in the fall of 1943 helped 
relieve but did not solve the labor prob- 
lem. At the outset the performance of the 
new port battalions was unimpressive. A 
report prepared on 21 October by Ross's 
headquarters revealed that at a number 
of ports British civilians, working the same 
types of ships and cargo, were discharg- 
ing more tons per gang per hour than 
the American battalions. ^^^ With experi- 
ence and training the troops soon did 
much better. But even so, in February 
1944 General Gross noted that the num- 
ber of measurement tons unloaded in the 
United Kingdom per working day per 
ship was low as compared with the aver- 
age rate for oversea ports — 942 measure- 
ment tons as against 1,128 measurement 
tons.'^' This poor showing was attributed 
in part to the unwillingness of British 
labor to use modern dock equipment, but 
General Ross felt that it could be traced 
mainly to the sheer inability of the older 
British workers to operate at a faster pace. 
Inadequate and inefficient civilian labor 
and a lack of modern equipment contin- 
ued to plague U.S. Army operations at 
most British ports throughout the 
build-up.'"' 

In general, the development of Amer- 
ican port activities followed a basic pat- 
tern. Initially completely dependent on 
the British, U.S. Army personnel quickly 
established close relations with British 
port and transportation authorities and 
oriented themselves to British methods of 
operation; then, as the necessary person- 
nel and experience were obtained, they 
gradually were given considerable free- 
dom of action in handling U.S. Army per- 
sonnel and cargo. Using British port facil- 
ities and relying heavily on British labor 



and equipment, the American port com- 
manders of necessity continued to work 
closely with the British military and the 
civilian agencies that dealt with port man- 
agement, port operation and clearance, 
movement control, the provision of labor, 
and other port activities. 

While conforming to this general pat- 
tern of development, American activities 
at the individual ports naturally varied 
because of their differing missions and 
facilities and their peculiar organizational 
and operating problems. A brief review 
will serve to indicate the principal char- 
acteristics and major accomplishments of 
the several British ports used by the U.S. 
Army during the Bolero period. 

Northern Ireland Ports 

As has been already noted, the first 
United Kingdom port used by the Amer- 
icans in World War II was Belfast, in 
Northern Ireland. The port facilities were 
adequate despite some damage from en- 
emy bombing, but modern mechanical 
equipment was lacking. Two privately 
owned floating cranes were available for 
heavy lifts, but additional cargo-handling 



133 Pqj. jj^g basic correspondence, July-October 
1943, see OCT HB ETO UK Ports— General. See 
also Ltrs, Ross to Gross, 30 Jun and 15 Jul 43, and 
Gross to Ross, 28 Jul and 21 Aug 43, OCT HB Gross 
ETO— Gen Ross. 

'" Memo, Col Thomas Monroe, ACofT Marine 
Opns SOS ETOUSA, to Port Commanders, sub: Ef- 
ficiency of Port Labour, Military and Civilian, OCT 
HB ETO UK Ports— Gen. 

' ''' Subsequently, the discharge rate at the British 
ports almost doubled, reaching an average of 1,729 
measurement tons per day during the period 16-31 
May 1944. Sec Rpt, LUilization of Vessels Employed 
by U.S. Army, 16-31 May 1944, OCT HB Water Div 
Vessel Utilization Rpt. 

•"■ Ltr, Ross to Gross, 26 Oct 43, OCT 320.2 Eng- 
land 43; Memo, Gross to Somervell, 23 Feb 44, sub: 
Discharge Rate for ETO, OCT HB Gross Day File. 
See also ASF MPR, Sec. 6, Analysis, 31 Jan 44, p. 81. 



BUILD-UP IN BRITAIN 



113 



equipment had to be supplied by the U.S. 
Army. Troops disembarked either directly 
from transports or from tenders loaded at 
anchorage in the Belfast Lough. The 
Sydenham berth was very convenient for 
receiving assembled aircraft, being near 
an airport to which the aircraft could be 
towed on barges. The ability to operate 
under lights and around the clock, if re- 
quired, was a prime asset."' 

The first American port organization to 
reach the United Kingdom landed in 
Northern Ireland in mid-May 1942. Com- 
manded by Col. Richard Stockton, VI, it 
began activity at Belfast and then extend- 
ed its jurisdiction to include Londonderry, 
Lisahally, Larne, Coleraine, and a few 
other minor installations. Later the head- 
quarters was redesignated Northern Ire- 
land Ports. British authorities technically 
were in charge until 21 September 1942, 
when the American port commander was 
given complete responsibility for U.S. 
Army port operations. 

Stockton had no easy assignment. His 
staff was small, and he was heavily de- 
pendent upon the British. Moreover, he 
found the local U.S. Army quartermaster 
reluctant to surrender the control that he 
had exercised over U.S. Army transpor- 
tation up to that time. To make matters 
more difficult, the port commander had 
been placed under the Northern Ireland 
Base Command, when it was established 
on 1 June 1942, and on occasion Stockton 
found himself caught between conflicting 
orders. For example, the theater chief of 
transportation had directed that civilian 
labor be employed in so far as possible, 
but the base commander gave contrary 
instructions.'''' 

Cargo discharge presented a major 
difficulty. A local stevedoring firm had a 
virtual monopoly, furnishing longshore- 



men, gear, and insurance for a fee equal- 
ling 20 percent of the gross payroll. Judged 
by American standards the labor was in- 
efficient, and the contract put a premium 
on slow discharge. Indeed, the American 
corporation charged with servicing the 
aircraft landed in Northern Ireland pre- 
ferred to have its own personnel receive 
the planes from the ship's gear, rather 
than risk damage by local workmen. 
Nevertheless, local longshoremen were as- 
signed to the job and drew wages while 
doing nothing. The stevedoring firm also 
sought to have all American vessels han- 
dled at Belfast, although discharge could 
be accomplished more rapidly and 
cheaply at other ports in the area. Despite 
protests by the port commander, this un- 
satisfactory situation obtained until the 
summer of 1943, when a new stevedoring 
contract, embodying better financial 
terms and encouraging prompt discharge, 
was secured.' '■' 

Belfast and its subports were found con- 
venient places to discharge deck cargo, 
notably aircraft, leaving the remainder of 
the ship's load to be discharged in Britain. 
Port personnel in Northern Ireland out- 



' '' Historical Data to May 1943, Facilities for 
Berthing Vessels. 25 Jun 42. OCT HB ETO Northern 
Ireland Ports; Condensed Rpt, Activities of Northern 
Ireland Ports January 1 942-December 1943. AG 
Adm 254 ETO; Ltr, Ross to Gross. 1 Sep 43. OCT 
HB Gross ETO— Gen Ross. 

' '^ Condensed Rpt. Activities of Northern Ireland 
Ports, Januar\- 1942-December 1943; Memo, Stock- 
ton for CofS USANIF. 19 Jun 42, sub: Comments on 
Port of Belfast. Both in AG Adm 254 (ETO). Histori- 
cal Data to May 1943, Northern Ireland Ports; Memo. 
Ross for all ports, 3 Aug 42, sub: Employment of Ci- 
vilians; Announcement, Base Commander, Officers" 
Mtg, 3 Sep 42; Interw Larson with Stockton, 2 Aug 
49. All in OCT HB ETO Northern Ireland Ports. 
Ltrs, Ro.ss to Gross, 19 Jun and 8 Jul 42, OCT HB 
Gross Day File. 

'"'Story of Trans in UK, pp. 31-33; Historical 
Data to May 1943, Northern Ireland Ports. OCT HB 
ETO Northern Ireland Ports. 



114 



THE TRANSPORTATION CORPS 



loaded part of the force sent to North 
Africa, and in the fall of 1942 the bulk of 
the U.S. combat troops, equipment, and 
supplies assembled in Ulster was with- 
drawn for that operation. Inbound traffic 
declined thereafter, and virtually ceased 
in the first half of 1943. During this period 
port operations were managed by a small 
cadre, which in June 1943 comprised only 
seven officers and twenty-six enlisted men. 
In the ensuing months cargo and troop 
arrivals picked up and the port organiza- 
tion was temporarily enlarged, but by D 
Day American activity at the Northern 
Ireland ports had again dwindled to 
negligible proportions."" 

Clyde Area Ports 

Although considerable cargo was re- 
ceived, the primary mission of the Clyde 
area ports was the reception of troops. 
More than half of the U.S. debarkations 
to 30 May 1944—873,160 of the 1,671,- 
010 — came through these installations.'^' 
The Clyde area included the ports of 
Greenock and Gourock; the deep broad 
anchorage known as the Tail of the Bank, 
which was situated near the mouth of the 
Clyde River; and the port of Glasgow, 
some fifteen miles up the river. Glasgow 
possessed outstanding facilities, the King 
George V docks being regarded as among 
the best in the United Kingdom. All piers 
had an adequate number of movable elec- 
tric cranes. Because of the narrow and 
comparatively shallow channel leading to 
Glasgow, the larger troop transports 
anchored at the Tail of the Bank, from 
which the incoming personnel were moved 
by tender to Gourock and Greenock." ' 

The first Clyde area port commander, 
Capt. (later Col.) Kenneth D. McKenzie, 
was appointed on 8 June 1942; he was 



succeeded in the following month by Lt. 
Col. (later Col.) James A. Crothers. As at 
Belfast, the Americans in the Clyde area 
at first depended heavily upon the British. 
Troop debarkations were handled by the 
British embarkation commandant, with 
U.S. port personnel providing liaison; the 
British movement control organization 
arranged for the transportation of person- 
nel and cargo to and from the port; and 
the Sea Transport Service was responsible 
for berthing and discharging American 
vessels. 

The assumption of greater responsibil- 
ity by the U.S. Army followed the arrival 
of the 5th Port on 1 1 September 1942."' 
Early in November 1942, by agreement 
between the theater chief of transporta- 
tion and the British director of move- 
ments, the U.S. port commander for the 
Clyde area assumed responsibility for the 
movement of U.S. Army personnel and 
cargo in and out of the area. This action 
was followed, on 27 April 1943, by a for- 
mal agreement between the British em- 
barkation commandant and the U.S. 
commanding officer of the Clyde area 
ports, whereby the latter became respon- 
sible for unloading troop transports carry- 
ing a preponderance of U.S. Army 
personnel. Some control of cargo opera- 



'^" Story of Trans in UK, pp. 35, 37-39; Semi- 
Monthly Rpt, Hq Northern Ireland Ports to CofT 
SOS ETO, 15 Jun 43, par. 2, 6, and Ltr, Col Eugene 
A. Eversberg, OCT, to Ross, 9 Oct 43, OCT 319.1 
Misc Rpts 43-44; Hist Rpt, TC ETO, Vol. Ill, Ch. I, 
pp. 5-6, Ch. VI, pp. 16-17, Ch. VII, pp. 1-3, OCT 
HB ETO. 

'" See Table I, p. 103. 

"-Story of Trans in UK, pp. 40-41; Hist Red, 
Clyde Area Ports and 5th PE, 1 May-31 Dec 42, 
OCT HB Oversea Ports 5th Port. 

' ' ■ Assigned to duty with the Clyde area ports, the 
5th Port was headed in turn by Col. Kenneth K. Bul- 
lock and Col. Eugene A. Eversberg before being 
placed under the command of Colonel Crothers on 21 
December 1942. 



BUILD-UP IN BRITAIN 



115 



tions was exercised by the British Sea 
Transport Service until June 1943. There- 
after the Americans were in full charge of 
their own port operations. 

Although granted a large measure of 
independence, the Americans continued 
to work in close collaboration with the 
British. Aside from contacts with the Brit- 
ish embarkation commandant, the British 
Movement Control, and the British Sea 
Transport Service, the U.S. port personnel 
maintained close liaison with the Clyde 
Navigation Trust, the port regional di- 
rector, the Ministry of War Transport, the 
Ministry of Labour, the Admiralty Berth- 
ing Office, the Clyde Anchorages, and 
various stevedoring firms. Despite some 
misunderstandings, excellent co-operation 
was maintained, and the British military 
and civilian authorities provided valuable 
assistance. '^^ 

Operating from Nissen huts erected on 
the piers, the men of the 5th Port were 
active at each of the principal docks in the 
Clyde area ports. During the winter of 
1942-43, rain, fog, high winds, and heavy 
seas, combined with the wartime black- 
out, greatly hampered cargo discharge. 
Nevertheless, large numbers of assembled 
aircraft were unloaded, together with 
many vehicles, harbor craft, locomotives, 
and other heavy items, which this port 
area was well equipped to handle. In the 
summer of 1943 an acute shortage of civil- 
ian labor necessitated the use of troops, 
first to remove baggage and organiza- 
tional equipment, and later to discharge 
other cargo. Beginning in October of that 
year, U.S. Army personnel received tech- 
nical instruction at the nearby Renfrew 
Airdrome in the unloading of aircraft, a 
task subsequently assigned to a special 
group of the 502d Port Battalion. During 
the following May the 5th Port passed the 



million mark in measurement tons dis- 
charged under its supervision. Both May 
and June 1944 were record months for 
cargo operations.' '' 

Meanwhile, more troops had landed in 
the Clyde area than anywhere else in the 
United Kingdom. With the exception of 
the six months following October 1942, 
when Bolero was subordinated to Medi- 
terranean operations, personnel debarka- 
tions were heavy, reaching a peak of ap- 
proximately 100,000 in April 1944.'"^ The 
Qiieen Mary, Queen Elizabeth, and other 
large troopships brought many American 
units to the Tail of the Bank. Debarkation 
from anchorage at this point entailed 
careful co-ordination with the British in 
order to obtain the tenders for the passage 
from ship to shore, as well as the rail 
equipment to deliver the incoming per- 
sonnel to their destinations. 

After the U.S. port commander as- 
sumed full responsibility for unloading 
troopships in April 1943, a standard de- 
barkation procedure was developed. As 
explained in the discussion of the move- 
ment control system, rail equipment was 
secured, and detailed train schedules were 



'^^ Story of Trans in UK, pp. 41-44; Hist Red, 
Clyde Area Ports, 1 May-3 1 Dec 42, 1 Jan-27 May 
43. and 28 May-4 Jun 43, OCT HB Oversea Ports 
5th Port. 

"■ Hist Reds, Clyde Area Ports, 30Jul-31 Dec 43. 
and Hist Rpts, Port TC-251, I Jan-31 Jan, and 1 
May-30Jun 44, OCT HB Oversea Ports 5th Port; 
Hist Rpt, TC ETO, Vol. HI, Ch. VHI, pp. 2-4, OCT 
HB ETO. 

'^'' The Clyde area ports reports and Transporta- 
tion Corps historical reports covering activities during 
April 1944 give 105,987 as the number of troops de- 
barked, but an analysis of a later Transportation 
Corps consolidated report would indicate that the cor- 
rect figure should be 97,3 73. See Hist Rpt, TC-251, 
Apr 44, OCT HB Oversea Ports 5th Port; Hist Rpt, 
TC ETO, \'ol. Ill, Ch. VI, Table. Troop Arrivals bv 
Port Areas. Jan 42-Jun 44, OCT HB ETO; and TC 
SOS ETO MPR, 30 Jun 44. Chart 1— Monthly Troop 
Debarkations, AG Adm 451 ETO. 



116 



THE TRANSPORTATION CORPS 



worked out in advance in London.'^' 
Since troop trains from the Mersey area as 
well as those from the Clyde area passed 
through junction points such as Crewe, 
careful planning of train movements was 
essential in order to avoid tie-ups. In the 
case of American troop debarkations, 
London provided the port commander 
with movement instructions, including the 
time of arrival, the strength of the units, 
and the train schedules. Under the port 
commander, a commissioned boarding of- 
ficer supervised the debarkation of the 
troops from transport to tender to train, 
according to the predetermined schedule. 
At Gourock and Greenock local military 
bands with their skirling bagpipes and 
brilliant tartans welcomed the new arriv- 
als, while the American Red Cross pro- 
vided refreshments. ^^'^ 

The ports in the Clyde area gave vital 
support to the North African invasion, the 
majority of the men in the first three U.K. 
convoys for North Africa embarking in 
this area. Although no troops were out- 
loaded for the Normandy assault, person- 
nel attached to the 5th Port helped equip 
and service more than one hundred of the 
MTV's (motor transport vessels) that were 
employed in the cross-Channel operation. 
Many experienced officers and men of the 
5th Port, including three port battalions, 
and most of the harbor craft, were with- 
drawn for service on the Continent."" 

The Mersey Ports 

The Mersey River area, lying midway 
on the British west coast, was the point of 
entry for heavy shipments of both troops 
and freight. Centering in Liverpool, it in- 
cluded the docks at Birkenhead and Gar- 
ston and the nearby port of Manchester. 
In addition to excellent railway connec- 



tions, the area was served by inland water- 
ways, notably the Manchester Ship Canal, 
and sufficient lighters and tugs were avail- 
able to aid in the discharge of vessels and 
to clear cargo from the port. Despite the 
damage inflicted by the Luftwaffe, the 
port facilities were largely operative. As at 
other English ports, the docks were old 
and the cargo-handling equipment was 
inadequate, especially for heavy lifts; the 
cobblestone surfaces also were a drawback 
to efficient operation.'^" 

A U.S. Army port command was estab- 
lished in the Mersey area on 18 June 1942. 
Headed briefly by Maj. John M. Gaffney, 
the port operation was placed under the 
command of Lt. Col. (later Col.) Cleland 
C. Sibley on 9 July.' '* Shortly thereafter 
the 4th Port arrived in the United King- 
dom, and was assigned to the Mersey 
area. As was the case at other ports, a 
period of orientation and dependence on 
the British preceded the assumption of 
control of operations by the Americans. 
Colonel Sibley was fortunate in obtaining 
the services of a British civilian who was 
experienced in cargo operations and had 
entry to shipping and other agencies in 



'^' See above, pp. 89-91. 

'^» Story of Trans in UK, pp. 41-46; Hist Red, 
Clyde Area Ports, 1 Jan-27 May 43, OCT HB Over- 
sea Ports 5th Port; Hist Red, Clyde Area Ports, 15 
Oct- 12 Nov 43, AG Adm 341 A ETO; Hist Rpt, TC 
ETO, Vol. HI, Ch. VI, pp. 16-17, Ch. VHI, pp. 1, 2, 
and 4, OCT HB ETO. 

'»•' Story of Trans in UK, p. 46; Hist Rpt, TC ETO, 
Vol. HI, Ch. VIH, pp. 5-7, OCT HB ETO. In Au- 
gust 1944 the entire 5th Port moved to France and 
was replaced at Glasgow by the 7th Port. See Hist 
Red, 5th Port, 1-31 Aug 41, OCT HB Oversea Ports 
5th Port. 

'■^" Memo, Lt Col Alan E. MacNicol, Supt ATS, 1 1 
May 43, sub: Hist Info Concerning Operating Condi- 
tions at Mersey Area Ports, OCT HB ETO Mersey 
Ports; Story of Trans in UK, pp. 47-49. 

'■'' Colonel Sibley continued as port commander 
until early January 1944, when he left to plan for the 
projected operation of the port of Cherbourg. 



BUILD-UP IN BRITAIN 



117 



Liverpool affecting U.S. port activities. In 
a short time, co-operative working rela- 
tionships were established with officials of 
the Mersey Dock and Harbor Board, 
which controlled and operated the Liver- 
pool Port Area, with the regional port di- 
rector, and with local representatives of 
the Ministry of War Transport, the Min- 
istry of Labour, and the British Movement 
Control. In late August 1942, as soon as 
the necessary personnel were trained, the 
U.S. port commander assumed control of 
embarkation, debarkation, entraining, 
and detraining where American troops 
were concerned; and on 1 September he 
began to take over movement functions 
previously exercised by the British with 
respect to cargo. In practice, Colonel Sib- 
ley worked closely with the British embar- 
kation commandant on personnel move- 
ments, and the staffs of the two'men oper- 
ated together under the direction of one or 
the other, depending on whether the 
troops involved were American or British. 
Sibley stated later that this teamwork be- 
tween the U.S. Army and the British civil- 
ian and military authorities was indis- 
pensable in accomplishing the mission of 
his port command. ^''- 

The Mersey ports ranked second to the 
Clyde area ports in total personnel re- 
ceived and were surpassed only by the 
Bristol Channel ports with regard to cargo 
unloaded before D Day. The wide dis- 
persion of the Mersey port area facilitated 
the berthing and discharge of incoming 
vessels but increased the burden of admin- 
istration and operation. A telephone net- 
work linked seven miles of sprawling 
docks. The landing stages, or floating 
docks, at Liverpool usually were employed 
for debarking troops, although some pas- 
sengers were discharged to tenders in mid- 
stream.^'^ 



At first all cargo discharge was per- 
formed by British civilians. Later, both 
British and U.S. military personnel had to 
be used. According to Colonel Sibley, 
there were never enough men to fill every 
job or to work around the clock. As a rule, 
the Liverpool laborer worked only at the 
dock of his choice, and he shunned all 
overtime. Indeed, a general strike devel- 
oped in mid- August 1943 in protest 
against overtime. The port commander 
thereupon completed discharge by using 
all military labor that could be rounded 
up, and the strike was settled with the 
longshoremen accepting such overtime as 
was required. The arrival of several Amer- 
ican port battalions in the fall of 1943 and 
the use of British service troops eased the 
burden. Nevertheless, the heavy inbound 
traffic in the first half of 1944 placed a 
severe strain on the available labor 
supply. ^'^ 

The subport of Manchester was con- 
nected with the Mersey River by a canal 
so shallow that cargo ships had to be 
lightened for the passage. Port labor was 
scarce in this highly industrialized area, 
necessitating the employment of a port 
battalion. Manchester was especially use- 
ful for unloading heavy cargo, such as 
steel, and the ability to bring such ma- 



^■'- Memo, Capt Alan G. Baker, Hq Mersey Area 
Ports, 7 Sep 42, sub: Chronological Hist of Mersey 
Area Ports; Memo, CG SOS ETO for CO Mersey 
Area Ports, 1 1 Sep 42, sub: Transfer of Opns of Brit- 
ish Mvmt Contl to Trans Sv USA; Comments by Col 
Sibley, 9 Sep 49. All in OCT HB ETO Mersey Ports. 

''^ Story of Trans in UK, pp. 52-56; Hist Rpt, TC 
ETO, Vol. I, App. 13, Vol. II, p. 45, Vol. III. Ch. VI, 
p. 16, and Ch. VII, pp. 1-3, OCT HB ETO. 

'^^ Story of Trans in UK, pp. 49-50; Ltrs, Ross to 
Gross, 1 7 Aug 43, and Gross to Ross, 2 1 Aug 43, OCT 
HB Gross ETO — Gen Ross; Hist, 4th Port, activation 
to 14 Sep 44, OCT HB Oversea Ports; Hist Rpt, TC 
ETO. II, 5, OCT HB ETO; Comments by Col Sib- 
ley, 9 Sep 49, OCT HB ETO Mersey Ports. 



118 



THE TRANSPORTATION CORPS 



terial inland by water netted substantial 
savings in railway freight charges.^" 

The Mersey River ports loaded many 
ships for the North African invasion. In 
the summer of 1943 they debarked many 
German and Italian prisoners of war. 
Early in January 1944 the 4th Port, then 
slated for service in France, was relieved 
by the 15th Port, which thereafter super- 
vised the U.S. Army port operations in 
the Mersey area.''" 

Bristol Channel Ports 

In the Bristol Channel area the U.S. 
Army mainly used the ports of Swansea, 
Barry, Cardiff, Newport, and Avonmouth. 
The largest amount of U.S. Army cargo 
assembled in the United Kingdom was re- 
ceived through these five ports. They had 
the important advantage of being located 
near the largest number of the U.S. Army 
depots in Great Britain, thus minimizing 
the amount of inland transportation 
required. 

On 22 June 1942, Lt. Col. (later Brig. 
Gen.) Edward H. Lastayo was designated 
to command the Bristol Channel ports. 
The port headquarters, originally located 
near Avonmouth, was transferred in Au- 
gust to a more convenient location in 
Newport. The 3d Port functioned in this 
area until it left for North Africa in the 
fall of 1942. Thereafter, a detachment of 
the 5th Port supervised the U.S. Army 
port operations until July 1943, when it 
was absorbed by the 1 1th Port.' '' To assist 
in handling the heavy increase in traffic, 
the 17th and part of the 16th Port were 
attached to the 1 1th Port early in 1944. 
Earmarked to take part in beach oper- 
ations in Normandy, the 1 1th Port began 
a gradual withdrawal from the port area 
in March. At that time, Colonel Crothers, 



formerly the port commander at Glasgow, 
assumed command of the 17th Port and 
was designated commander of the ports in 
the Bristol Channel area. By 16 April 1944 
the 17th Port, assisted by the 16th Port, 
had taken over port operations. The two 
organizations worked together until the 
latter's departure for duty on the Con- 
tinent in June.' '' 

The docks in the Bristol area were ade- 
quate, but there were a number of hand- 
icaps. The exceptional high tide created 
problems. The facilities had been designed 
chiefly for bulk shipments and were not 
readily adaptable to the prompt forward- 
ing of mixed American cargoes. The lack 
of sorting space at Newport, Cardiff", and 
Barry was a serious problem. Sheds were 
acquired at St. Mellons to receive, iden- 
tify, and dispatch a large part of the cargo 
discharged at those ports. 

At the outset, the British supervised 
port operations, while 3d Port personnel 
worked individual ships and acquired val- 
uable experience for their North African 
mission. In mid- August 1942, somewhat 
earlier than at other British ports, the 
Americans took over responsibility for 
handling their own cargo ships and as- 
sumed movement control for U.S. freight. 



'^^ Story of Trans in UK, pp. 56-57; Memo, Col 
MacNicol, 1 1 May 43, sub: Hist Inf . . . Mersey 
Area Ports, OCT HB ETO Mersey Ports. See also 
Rpt, Subport TC-282, I Jan-3 1 Dec 44, OCT HB 
Oversea Ports. 

'•■'■ Hist. 4th Port, activation to 14 Sep 44, pp. 2-3, 
OCT HB Oversea Ports; Hist Rpt, TC ETO, H, 41- 
42, OCT HB ETO. 

''" During its stay in the Bristol Channel area, the 
1 1th Port was commanded in turn by Col. Russell G. 
Simpson, Col. (later Maj. Gen.) Harry B. Vaughan, 
Jr., Lt. Col. Grover G. Heldenfels, Brig. Gen. Joseph 
L. Phillips, and Colonel Whitcomb. 

>•'« Story of Trans in UK, pp. 58-59; SO 11, OCT 
SOS ETO, 22 Jun 42, OCT HB Gross ETO — Gen 
Ross; Hist, 17th Port, Ch. V, pp. 2-8, OCT HB 
Oversea Ports. 



BUILD-UP IN BRITAIN 



119 



As at other ports, it proved highly advan- 
tageous to establish close working rela- 
tionships with the local British military 
and civilian agencies.' '" 

As a rule, cargo was discharged by civil- 
ian labor, which at times was unsatisfac- 
tory both in quality and in quantity. By 
arrangement with the labor unions, U.S. 
Army port personnel were placed in the 
hatch gangs solely for purposes of observa- 
tion and training. At first the unions 
stoutly resisted any attempt to employ 
U.S. troops as longshoremen, even though 
the civilian labor force clearly could not 
continue to carry the entire load. Several 
brief strikes occurred. In June 1943 at 
Avonmouth, for example, the local unions, 
supported by the British Ministry of La- 
bour at London, prevented the port com- 
mander from using a port battalion to 
speed up the discharge of a ship. Later, 
however, the British furnished additional 
workers, and permitted the use of Amer- 
ican port troops where the need arose."'" 

At the height of their activity, from July 
1943 to June 1944, the Bristol Channel 
ports consistently unloaded well over 
300,000 measurement tons of cargo per 
month. In the peak month, April 1944, in- 
bound material came to 692,958 measure- 
ment tons, and inbound troops totaled 
28,388. The troop and cargo figures for 
that month highlight the impressive con- 
tribution toward victory made by U.S. 
Army port personnel in the Bristol Chan- 
nel area.'"' 

Eastern and Southern Ports 

The Northern Ireland, Clyde, and Bris- 
tol Channel port areas bore the brunt of 
the Bolero program until the summer of 
1943, when increasingly heavy inbound 
shipments compelled the use of ports that 



were more directly exposed to enemy 
action. Indeed, as early as mid-August 
1942 the theater chief of transportation 
had assigned 1st Lt. Thomas S. Lowry to 
serve in Hull as acting port commander of 
the Humber River Ports. On 6 September 
a subport was set up at Immingham, on 
the south bank of the Humber. Lowry's 
staff was small, the activity was light, and 
on 30 November 1942 the Humber River 
ports were closed. In the following spring 
they were reopened, chiefly for cargo re- 
ception. After its arrival in late July 1943 
the r2th Port, headed by Col. Bert C. 
Ross, functioned at Hull and Imming- 
ham. U.S. Army operations at Hull suf- 
fered from the prevailing shortage of civil- 
ian dockworkers, and most of the unload- 
ing there had to be done by troops of the 
498th Port Battahon.'"- 

Because of the continuing danger from 
enemy air attacks, no substantial use was 
made of the excellent discharge facilities 
at London until 1943. In April eight ves- 
sels, carrying lend-lease cargo originally 
destined for the Soviet Union, were 
diverted to London. Since these ships car- 
ried ammunition, they were dispersed 



''=' Memos, Col Simpson for CofT SOS ETO, 27 
May and 2 Jun 43, sub: Info for Hist Br; Dir, CG SOS 
ETO, 15 Aug 42, sub: Re Transfer of Opns, British 
Mvmt Contl; Memo of mtg held at Avonmouth on 
Sunday, 9 Aug 42. All in OCT HB ETO Bristol 
Channel Ports. See also Hist, 4th Port, 20 Jun 44, pp. 
4-5, OCT HB Oversea Ports. 

"'" Hist. 3d Port, 20 Jun 44, p. 5, OCT HB Over- 
sea Ports; Ltr, Ross to Gross, 15 Jul 43, with Incl, Ex- 
tract from Rpt of Discharge of SS Alary mar, OCT HB 
Gross ETO — Gen Ross: Hist, 17th Port, Ch. V, pp. 
5, 10, 12, 18-19, OCT HB Oversea Ports. 

"■' See Tables 1 and 2. pp. 103. 104. 

■'■■- GO 72, SOS ETO, 23 Nov 42; Memos, 2d Lt 
David V. Scoggin. TC, for Hist Br OCT SOS ETO. 
21 Nov 42, sub: Hist Info, and 8 Apr 43, sub: Info for 
Hist Br. All in OCT HB ETO Humber Ports. Memo, 
CG 12th Maj Port for OCT SOS ETO, 25 Jun 45, 
sub: Hist Rpt; and Hist, 12th Port, 4 Aug-31 Dec 43. 
Both in OCT HB Oversea Ports 1 2th Port. 



120 



THE TRANSPORTATION CORPS 



along the Thames River to minimize the 
risk. Having no port personnel, the re- 
gional transportation officer at London 
drafted local railway traffic officers to as- 
sist in supervising the discharge opera- 
tions. Working an average of eighty-two 
hours a week, these RTO's supervised 
cargo discharge until mid-July 1943, when 
the 14th Port, under the command of 
Brig. Gen. Joseph L. Phillips, arrived and 
took over this activity."'^ In the following 
December the 12th Port began relieving 
the 14th Port, which was slated to expand 
its operations at Southampton and Plym- 
outh and prepare for the cross-Channel 
attack. By the end of January 1944 the 
12th Port was operating in London, Hull, 
and Immingham, and it continued to do 
so until transferred to Normandy shortly 
after D Day. ^'^^ 

During the last half of 1943 the 14th 
Port supervised the discharge of approxi- 
mately 350,000 measurement tons of 
cargo at London, Southampton, and Plym- 
outh. Of that amount, 162,224 measure- 
ment tons were received at Southampton. 
After being relieved at London, the 14th 
Port confined its work to Plymouth and 
Southampton, of which the latter was to 
become the main installation. 

Plymouth, a victim of the German blitz, 
had only a limited cargo capacity. Early 
in 1944 it came under the jurisdiction of 
the newly arrived 13th Port, which pushed 
through the faltering barge-construction 
program at Truro, Totnes, and Hayle, 
outloaded large amounts of ammunition 
at the old Cornish port of Fowey for the 
invasion of Normandy, and dispatched 
thousands of troops and vehicles from 
Plymouth and Falmouth for the cross- 
Channel attack. '"•' 

Southampton became the principal 
U.S. port on the south coast. In peacetime 



a thriving passenger port and a familiar 
gateway for visitors to the British Isles, it 
had suffered severely from enemy bomb- 
ing. As a result, the port had remained 
idle for some time, and much of its cargo- 
handling equipment had been removed to 
other ports. Yet despite the considerable 
damage, Southampton remained one of 
the best ports in England. Deep water and 
relatively little tide made it a port of few 
locks, and there were numerous modern 
piers as well as seven graving docks for 
ship repair. Although many British offi- 
cials feared that the port was too vulner- 
able, the Americans reopened it in the 
summer of 1943, and the fears were soon 
found to be without foundation. 

Early U.S. operations were hand- 
icapped by the shortage of cargo-handling 
equipment and by labor troubles. Labor 
at Southampton, as elsewhere in Britain, 
was in short supply and none too efficient. 
During the summer and fall of 1943 the 
activity of the 14th Port at Southampton 
was interrupted by a number of strikes, 
several of which represented protests 



^'^'•' General Phillips was transferred to command 
the 1 1th Port on 27 October 1943. His successor, Col. 
Walter D. McCord, stayed on until February 1944, 
when he left to become Regional Transportation Of- 
ficer, Southern Base Section. Col. Frederick W. Hyde 
then served as port commander until 12 April 1944, 
when Lt. Col. Leo J. Meyer assumed command. See 
Hist, 14th Port, Oct 43, Feb 44, Apr 44, OCT HB 
Oversea Ports. 

"'^ Hist Rpt, TC ETO, I, 41, 48, OCT HB ETO; 
Memo, Chief Opns TC SOS ETO, 14 Apr 43, sub: 
Discharge in UK of Vessels . . . for North Russia, 
OCT 319.1 England Jan-Sep 43; Memo, Hist Office 
RTO CBS for OCT SOS ETO, 24 Aug 43, sub: Hist 
Rpt, AG Adm 341 A ETO; Memo, Hist Office RTO 
CBS for CofT SOS ETO, 28 May 43, sub: Info for 
Hist Br, OCT HB ETO, Ccntl Base; Hist, 12th Port, 
4 Aug-31 Dec 43, I Jan-21 Feb, 3-9 Apr, and 21 Jul 
44, OCT HB Oversea Ports. 

"■■Hist Red, 14th Port, Dec 43; Hist Rpt, 13th 
Port, May 44; Gen Release No. 2357, Hq UK Base. 
All in OCT HB Oversea Ports. U.S. Army ETO, The 
i:ilfi Port, 1943-1946, pp. 1,6-10. 



BUILD-UP IN BRITAIN 



121 



against the presence of American military 
police who were stationed in the hatches 
to prevent pilferage. Nevertheless, by Oc- 
tober cargo operations had increased 
substantially."''' 

Early in 1944 the headquarters of the 
14th Port was moved from London to 
Southampton. Fairly compact office space 
and a sufficient number of billets were ob- 
tained in and near the city by using vari- 
ous structures, including the Blighmont 
Barracks, a wing of the Civic Center, a 
school, and two hotels. In the ensuing 
months cargo-handling facilities were 
greatly improved and, except for minor 
squabbles, labor disputes practically 
ceased. 

Southampton together with the other 
ports along the southern and eastern 
shores of Great Britain, including the 
Thames and Humber River areas, con- 
tributed substantially to the build-up in 
the British Isles by receiving cargo di- 
verted from the heavily burdened Bristol 
Channel and Mersey River ports, particu- 
larly after July 1943. But Southampton's 
principal wartime contribution was to be 
made as a port of embarkation rather 
than as a port of discharge. In the months 
preceding the cross-Channel assault the 
emphasis in Transportation Corps oper- 
ations increasingly shifted from receiving 
personnel and cargo to planning and pre- 
paring for the outbound movement to the 
Continent. Since southern England was 
close to Normandy and the scene of the 
greatest concentration of American troops, 
the ports in that area were the logical in- 
stallations from which to mount and sup- 
port the invading forces. 

During May 1944, with Lt. Col. LeoJ. 
Meyer in command, all cargo-discharge 
operations ceased at Southampton, and 
the port personnel concentrated their 



efforts on preparations for the Normandy 
invasion."'" From D Day onward the 
Southampton Port of Embarkation had a 
key role in the outbound movement of 
U.S. troops, equipment, and supplies to 
the Continent. A major port activity at 
this time was the loading of vehicles and 
drivers aboard specially converted Liberty 
ships for delivery across the Channel. 
Because of its proximity to the Continent, 
its excellent facilities, and the experienced 
Army port organization, Southampton 
remained active to the end of the war. The 
port was also destined to play a prominent 
part in the redeployment and repatriation 
of American troops and in the movement 
of British war brides to the United 
States."''^ 

The British ports obviously had a large 
responsibility in the build-up of American 
strength in the United Kingdom. By the 
end of June 1944 the U.S. Army port or- 
ganizations, with British co-operation and 
assistance, had landed in the United 
Kingdom a total of 1,792,512 U.S. Army 
troops and 15,573,699 measurement tons 
of cargo. Beginning on D Day, almost all 
the U.S. military resources slowly built up 
sincejanuary 1942 had to be shipped out 
during a relatively short period in a sort 
of Bolero in reverse. Although this activ- 



^««Hist Red, 14th Port, Aug-Nov 43, OCT HB 
Oversea Ports 14th Port; Memo, Ross for Gross, 30 
Nov 43, sub: Wkly Rpt Port Opns, OCT 319.1 Eng- 
land OCT-Dec 43; Rpt, Col McCord and Col Meyer 
to CofT WD. 18 Oct 43. OCT 320.21-352.9 England 
43. 

"^' Command of the 14th Port was assumed by Col. 
Sherman L. Kiser on 25 July 1944, Colonel Meyer 
becoming his deputy. 

"'-^ Hist Red, 14th Port, Dec 43, Jan, Feb, May-Jul 
44, and Opn Overlord, 14th Port, 6 Jun-6 Sep 44, 
OCT HB Oversea Ports 14th Port; Hist Rpt, TC 
ETO, Vol. n, pp. 42-43, Vol. HI, Ch. IX, OCT HB 
ETO; Memo, Col Meyer for Larson, 1 Mar 49, sub: 
Ch on Port Opns in British Isles, OCT HB ETO UK 
Ports. 



122 



THE TRANSPORTATION CORPS 



ity ultimately was bound to reduce the 
importance of the U.K. ports, all were 
under great and continuous pressure dur- 
ing the critical spring and summer of 1944. 

Railway Transportation 

The movement of U.S. Army personnel 
and cargo between the various ports and 
destinations in the interior was largely the 
task of the British railways, though motor 
and inland water transportation were also 
used. The railroads had early felt the im- 
pact of war. From 1 September 1939 on 
they were under wartime controls. Be- 
cause of the emergency all freight cars 
were pooled, traffic was regulated on a 
priority basis, and passenger movements 
were curtailed. When American troops 
first began to debark, the British railways 
were already suffering from at least three 
serious handicaps: ( 1 ) a critical shortage 
of manpower, arising from the diversion 
of railway employees to wartime assign- 
ments; (2) a sharp reduction in railway 
equipment because of oversea require- 
ments, the losses of the British Expedition- 
ary Forces in France after Dunkerque, 
abnormal wear and tear resulting from 
unusually heavy domestic traffic, and re- 
stricted new production, especially of lo- 
comotives; and (3) a limited capacity to 
move tanks, other armored vehicles, and 
bulky Engineer and Air Forces items, at- 
tributable in part to small cars and in part 
to clearance restrictions such as those im- 
posed by tunnels.''"' 

When Britain entered the war, her rail- 
ways had 19,463 locomotives, 1,241,711 
freight cars, and 45,838 passenger cars 
with a total seating capacity of 2,655,000. 
The total route mileage was 19,273 miles, 
practically all of which was laid with 
standard-gauge track. Judged by Amer- 



ican standards, the number of units of 
equipment was large in relation to the 
mileage, but the capacity per unit was 
small. The British freight car, or "goods 
wagon," for example, might move an 
average of only five to six tons as com- 
pared with an average of forty tons carried 
in the American boxcar.'"" Also much 
smaller than its American counterpart, 
the British passenger car was designed to 
effect ready discharge of passengers from 
many compartments and at numerous 
stops. Upon his arrival in England, Colo- 
nel Ross was much impressed with the 
heavy movement of passenger trains, 
which he described as frequent and as 
crowded as those of the New York City 
subway.'' ' 

Since short hauls were the rule, the U.S. 
Army made no effort to set up the cus- 
tomary staging system for troops de- 
barking in the British Isles. Thanks to the 
meticulous scheduling of trains, newly ar- 
rived troops were able to march directly 
from shipside to railway cars for the 
journey inland. The shortage of rolling 
stock and the competing demands of the 
civilian economy made close co-ordination 
necessary in order to effect the prompt 
movement of either troops or freight. All 
military traffic was subject to the jurisdic- 



"'■' Memo, David Wills, Info Div British Sup Coun- 
cil in North America, sub: British Transport Con- 
trols, c. 1942, OCT 500 England 42; Hist Rpt, TC 
ETO, Vol. I, App. 15, pp. 12-14, OCT HB ETO; 
OCT HB Monograph 29, pp. 23-24; Ltr, Ross to Lar- 
son, 5 Dec 49, OCT HB Inquiries. See also Hancock 
and Cowing, op. cit., pp. 480-83. 

''" For monthly averages of loaded British wagons, 
sec ASF MPR, Sec. 3, 30 Nov 43, p. 7 1 . 

'"' Rpt, Otto Jabelmann to W. Averell Harriman, 
5 Jan 43, sub: British Locomotive Situation, OCT 
453.01-453.3 England 43; Hi.st Rpt, TC ETO, Vol. I, 
App. 14, p. 13, OCT HB ETO; Ltr, Ross to Wylie, 28 
Jul 42, AG Adm 453 England 42. See also Facts About 
British Railways in Wartime (London: British Railways 
Press Office, 1943). 



BUILD-UP IN BRITAIN 



123 



tion of the joint American and British 
movement control organization, in which 
the Transportation Corps was most com- 
monly represented by the ubiquitous 
RTO. 

Because of the dependence of the Army 
upon rail transport,' '-' the serious shortage 
of steam locomotives that developed in 
Great Britain during 1942 had disturbing 
implications for the Bolero program. To 
meet the grave need of additional motive 
power, plans were made for the procure- 
ment in the United States of 400 locomo- 
tives of the 2-8-0 type, comparable to the 
British "Austerity" class engines.'"' Simply 
designed so as to permit rapid production, 
these locomotives were to be used first on 
the British railways and later by the U.S. 
Army on the Continent. Fifteen switching 
locomotives also were required for moving 
freight cars at the U.S. Army depots in the 
United Kingdom. The theater requisition 
for these 415 locomotives, together with 
the usual spare parts, accessories, and 
tools, was forwarded in mid-August 
1942.''^ 

During the summer and fall of 1942 
there were growing indications of impend- 
ing difficulty. The outloading of troops 
and cargo for the North African invasion 
added appreciably to the burden of the 
railways. In appraising the situation Ross 
found the British railway men generally 
co-operative, but handicapped by the 
equipment shortage. At the same time, he 
complained that the U.S. Army supply 
services on occasion were unable to indi- 
cate the proper depot destination for cargo 
and were quite lax in unloading wagons 
promptly. Also, from time to time the sup- 
ply services demanded embargoes on cer- 
tain depots, which if granted would have 
resulted in congestion at the ports, where 
the docks had to be kept clear both to 



make space for incoming cargo and to 
guard against loss through enemy air at- 
tack. By October 1942 it was obvious that 
unless additional locomotives were pro- 
cured, rail transportation might bog down 
badly. Fortunately, tangible American aid 
arrived soon. In November the first of the 
2-8-0 locomotives was landed at Cardiff, 
Wales, where it was received with appro- 
priate fanfare.''^ 

In an effort to stave off the impending 
crisis in railway transportation, W. Averell 
Harriman, the U.S. lend-lease representa- 
tive in London, himself an executive of a 
large American rail line, arranged to have 
Otto Jabelmann, mechanical engineer of 
the Union Pacific Railroad, sent to Lon- 
don in late 1942 to look into the British 
locomotive situation. Jabelmann died 
before his study was completed, but his 
findings, which became available in Janu- 
ary 1943, indicated: (1) a serious defi- 
ciency of motive power, arising from 
greatly increased traffic; (2) a decrease in 
the production of new locomotives; and 
(3) insufficient maintenance, resulting in 
too high a percentage of locomotives being 
laid up for repairs. Blackout restrictions 
also contributed to abnormal operating 
difficulties. According to Jabelmann, the 
400 American locomotives ordered for 
Bolero traffic — of which only 26 had 



'"- During the period from 1 August 1942 to 31 Au- 
gust 1943, 65 percent of the total cargo dispatched 
from the ports was forwarded by rail. See ASF MPR 
Sec. 3, 30 Nov 43, p. 71. 

^'' The figure 2-8-0 refers to the wheel arrange- 
ment of the locomotive. 

'"' Memo, CofT SOS for CG SOS ETO, 6 Jul 42, 
sub: Trans Plan, OCT HB Gross ETO — Gen Ross; 
Memo, Chief Rail Div OCT for Gen Dillon, 30Jun 
42, sub: Diesel Locomotives, OCT 453 England 42. 

'■'• Ltrs. Ross to Gross, 25 Aug, 10 Sep 42. OCT HB 
Gross ETO— Gen Ross; Ltr, Ryan to Ross, 21 Oct 42, 
OCT 453 England 42; Ltr, Ryan to Gross, 25 Nov 42, 
OCT HB Gross ETO— Rail. 



124 



THE TRANSPORTATION CORPS 



been delivered up to 28 December 1942 — 
were urgently needed as a stopgap meas- 
ure until British locomotive construction 
picked up.''" 

Early in 1943 General Lee put pressure 
on Washington to speed up the delivery of 
American-built locomotives to the United 
Kingdom. The need was urgent. So far ex- 
cellent weather had forestalled serious dif- 
ficulty on the British railways, but be- 
tween 1,000 and 1,500 trains had been 
canceled per week, chiefly because of lack 
of power. By 28 May 1943 a total of 184 
U.S. Army 2-8-0 locomotives had been 
received, of which about 100 already were 
being operated on the British main lines.'"' 

A definite understanding with the 
British concerning the employment of the 
Bolero locomotives was not obtained 
until mid-May 1943. Though regarded as 
U.S. Army property, this equipment was 
to be placed in a joint stockpile under 
American and British control. As the lo- 
comotives arrived they were sent to a 
civilian railway shop for final assembly 
and adjustment before assignment to the 
British railways. The British Railway Ex- 
ecutive Committee had general super- 
vision of the Bolero locomotives, but the 
theater chief of transportation kept de- 
tailed records of their utilization, operat- 
ing condition, and location, so as to be 
able to recall them on short notice if they 
should be needed for military purposes.'"'' 
Of these locomotives, only 396 figured in 
the final accounting. Under the original 
agreement, the British railways were to 
maintain the locomotives in good running 
order and to return them when requested 
in the same condition as when received, 
subject to normal wear and tear.'"" 

The principal problem with respect to 
the Bolero locomotives was to assure ade- 
quate maintenance, since the British were 



short of labor and were therefore inclined 
to pay little attention to such compara- 
tively new equipment. The Americans, on 
the other hand, realized that unless suffi- 
cient maintenance were provided, the 
locomotives might not be serviceable when 
needed for U.S. Army operations on the 
Continent. Accordingly, at the direction 
of the theater chief of transportation, U.S. 
Army inspectors kept careful watch on 
both the maintenance and use of this 
equipment.''*" 

As D Day aproached General Ross in- 
creased his pressure on the British for 
proper maintenance of the Bolero loco- 
motives, but because of the critical labor 
shortage his efforts were not very produc- 
tive. Beginning early in 1944 the Ameri- 
can 2-8-0 locomotives were progressively 
recalled by the U.S. Army to be prepared 



'"^ Ltrs, Gross to Lee, 26 Nov 42, and Ryan to 
Gross, 6 and 10 Dec 42, OCT HB Gross ETO — Gen 
Ross; Memo, Jabelmann for Harriman, 5 Jan 43, sub: 
British Locomotive Situation, OCT 453.01-453.3 Eng- 
land 43; Ltrs, Gross to Ryan, 23 Dec 42 and 20 Jan 
43, OCT HB Gross ETO. See also Hancock and 
Cowing, op. at., pp. 481-82. 

'' ' Memo, ACofS for Opns SOS for ACofS for Ma- 
terial SOS WD, 16 Jan 43; Paraphrase of Cbl to Gen 
Macready, British Army Staff, 20 Jan 43. Both in 
OCT 453.01-453.3 England 43. See also Hancock 
and Gowing, op. cit., p. 482; and Memo, Ross for 
Gross, 28 May 43, sub: Rpt, Mil Ry Activities. OCT 
453 England Jan-Jun 43. 

■" Ltr, Ross to Gross, 18 May 43, OCT HB Gross 
ETO — Gen Ross; Memo, Gross to Ross, 16 May 43, 
sub; Rpt Mil Ry Activides ETO, OCT 569.5-900 
England 1943. 

'"■' Of the original 400, two locomotives were de- 
stroyed by explosion and two were withdrawn for 
training purposes. See Memo, Chief Sup Div TC 
ETO for Recorder Gen Purchasing Bd, 13 Mar 45, 
OCT 453.31 England 44. 

'^" Memo, Maj Frank E. Cheshire, Overseas Liaison 
Br OCT, for Lt Col Herbert, OCT WD, 29 Jan 43, 
sub: Asgmt of Additional 2-8-0 Type Locomotives to 
UK, OCT 453.01 -453.3 England 43; IRS, ACofT to 
Corr APO 887, 8 Oct 43, sub: British Locomotive 
Production, OCT 319.1 England, Oct-Dec 43; Hi.st 
Rpi, TC ETO, II, 81, OCT HB ETO. 



BUILD-UP IN BRITAIN 



125 



for service on the Continent, and at the 
end of March 355 of them had been as- 
sembled at Ebbw Junction. The return 
was on such short notice that the British 
had no time for overhauling and recondi- 
tioning, which had to be accomplished by 
the Americans. '"*' The 2-8-0's were a great 
aid to the British railways in handling 
wartime traffic and represented the major 
American contribution to the relief of the 
overburdened transportation facilities of 
the United Kingdom. 

Other equipment was also loaned to the 
British railways, including 50 0-6-0 type 
steam locomotives for use in the coal mines 
and at British ports, 700 flatcars for mov- 
ing oversize loads, 500 tank cars for carry- 
ing petroleum products, and 42 refrigera- 
tor cars for transporting U.S. Army perish- 
able supplies. All this equipment was sub- 
ject to return on fourteen days' notice. In 
mid-February 1944, on recommendation 
of General Ross, General Lee directed 
that no U.S. Army rolling stock ear- 
marked for operation on the Continent 
should be released to the British railways 
without specific authorization by the 
theater chief of transportation. '''- 

The Transportation Corps did not un- 
dertake any railway operations in the 
United Kingdom except at the U.S. Army 
depots. In October 1942, at the urgent re- 
quest of the British who were then hard 
pressed by the demands of the Torch 
undertaking, U.S. railway troops began 
taking over responsibility for switching 
and maintaining the tracks at these in- 
stallations. Although temporarily handi- 
capped by the transfer of rail personnel to 
North Africa, by April 1943 Transporta- 
tion Corps troops were doing the switch- 
ing at eight U.S. Army depots, using 
eighteen locomotives for the purpose. As 
additional railway operating troops 



became available, this activity was ex- 
panded.'''' 

The British Isles formed a useful train- 
ing center for American railway troops, 
most of whom were without firsthand 
knowledge of the European railway sys- 
tems. The theater chief of transportation 
therefore assigned various military rail- 
way units to U.S. Army depots and to 
British railway installations so that the 
men could obtain the technical training 
and practical experience required for 
military railway operations on the Conti- 
nent."' 

The United Kingdom also served as a 
convenient base at which to assemble and 
store railway rolling stock for ultimate use 
in France. Some of this equipment came 
from British sources, but most of it arrived 
from the United States in knocked-down 
form. The assembly and storage of railway 
cars developed into a major enterprise, 
concerning which further details will be 



""' Memos, Ross for Gross, 14 and 31 Mar 44, sub: 
Rpt Mil Ry Activities, AG 319.1 Rpt to CofT Wash- 
ington; Memo, Chief Sup Div TO ETO for Recorder 
Gen Purchasing Bd, 1 3 Mar 45, OCT 453.3 1 Eng- 
land 44. 

'^- Hist Rpt, TC ETO, II, 67-68, OCT HB ETO: 
Memo, Ross for Gross, 14 Mar 44, sub: Rpt Mil Ry 
Activities ETO, AG 319.1 Rpt to CofT Washington; 
IRS, ACofT Sup Div OCT to Lt Harris, Hist Sec, 6 
Oct 44, AG Adm 341 A ETO. See also IRS, G-4 to 
CofT SOS ETO, 29 Jan 44, sub: Wagons for Conti- 
nental Opns, and Memo, CG SOS ETO for Base Sec 
Comdrs, 13 Feb 44, same sub, AG 453 Vol. I 1944 Ry 
Equip. 

!«' Ltr, Ryan to Gross, 7 Nov 42, OCT HB Gross 
ETO — Rail; Consolidated Rpt on TC Activities in 
ETO, Annex 8, History of the Military Railway Serv- 
ice, Apps. 10 and I; Memo, Lt Col S. H. Bingham, 
TC, for CofT SOS ETO, 9 Apr 43, sub: Responsibili- 
ties of TC 1943-45, AG 320 Responsibilities of TC 
1943-45 EUCOM; Memo, Ross to Gross, 16 May 43. 
sub: Mil Ry Activities. OCT 545.9-900 England 43. 

'^^ Memo, Ross for Gross, 28 May 43, sub: Rpt, Mil 
Ry Activities ETO, OCT 453 England Jan-Jun 43; 
Memo, Ross for Gross, ISJun 43, same sub, AG 319.1 
Misc Rpts ETO 43. 



126 



THE TRANSPORTATION CORPS 



given in the account of Transportation 
Corps supply activities.'**^ 

While fulfilling its responsibilities for 
rail transportation in the United King- 
dom, the Transportation Corps developed 
plans for rail operations on the Continent. 
The Transportation Corps Military Rail- 
way Division had been working on rail 
equipment requirements since 1942, and 
the Transportation Corps Advance Eche- 
lon, set up in mid-September 1943, gave 
increasing attention to plans for rail as 
well as other transportation activities fol- 
lowing the cross-Channel assault. On 20 
March 1944 the 2d Military Railway 
Service headquarters, under Brig. Gen. 
Clarence L. Burpee, arrived in England 
and began to prepare to take control of 
U.S. military railway operations in north- 
ern France. By D Day detailed plans had 
been worked out for the transfer of U.S. 
rail personnel and equipment to the Con- 
tinent and for the operations to be under- 
taken thereafter.'*'' 

Motor Transport 

The U.S. Army at first made only lim- 
ited use of the motor vehicles in the 
United Kingdom in part because of seri- 
ous shortages of gasoline, oil, and tires, 
and in part because of the narrow and 
winding roads, which were usually 
flanked by hedges that tended to obscure 
the driver's vision. Americans also had 
some anxious moments learning to drive 
on the left side and under blackout re- 
strictions. But when it became obvious 
that the British railways could not bear 
the entire burden, increasing use had to 
be made of motor transport.""' 

The theater chief of transportation had 
a dual interest in motor transport: as a 
means of moving troops and freight, and 



as an activity involving traffic control. At 
the outset he was assigned responsibility 
for the operation, maintenance, and 
movement control of motor vehicles. In 
midsummer of 1942 the War Department 
transferred functions pertaining to the de- 
velopment, procurement, and issue, as well 
as heavier classes of maintenance, from the 
Quartermaster Corps to the Ordnance De- 
partment. The operations of truck troop 
units remained a responsibility of the 
Quartermaster Corps. The European the- 
ater followed suit on 1 September, thereby 
limiting the Transportation Corps to 
movement control for U.S. Army traffic 
on the highways. This change came as an 
unexpected blow to General Ross. Al- 
though he professed no desire to retain re- 
sponsibility for the maintenance, as- 
sembly, or distribution of motor vehicles, 
he thought it a mistake to remove the 
operation of trucking units from his juris- 
diction. Despite the disadvantage of di- 
vided responsibility for motor transport, 
this situation prevailed for almost a 
year.'** 

The Transportation Corps was responsi- 
ble for arranging all U.S. movements by 
highway to and from the ports, and for 
the control of all motor traffic involving 
convoys of fifty or more vehicles (twenty 
or more vehicles when moving through 
London, Edinburgh, or Glasgow). The 



"^' Hist Rpt, TC ETO, I, 64-67, OCT HB ETO; 
Consolidated Rpt on TC Activities in ETO, Annex 8, 
MRS Hist. App. 10. Sec below, pp. 1290". 

'"'■ Consolidated Rpt on TC Activities in ETO, An- 
nex 8, MRS Hist, pp. 13-15. 

'" Story of Trans in UK, pp. 108-09. 

"*'' WD Cir 245, 25 Jul 42; Hist Red. Ord Sv Hq 
SOS, 22 Jul-20 Sep 42, AG Adm 564 ETO; A Brief 
Outline History of the Motor Transport Service, OCT 
HB ETO MTS; Ltr, Ross to Gross, 10 Sep 42, OCT 
HB Gross ETO — Gen Ross; Ltr, Ryan to Gross, 7 
Nov 42, OCT HB Gross ETO — Rail; Ltrs, Ross to 
Larson, 9 Mar and 5 Dec 49, OCT HB Inquiries. 



BUILD-UP IN BRITAIN 



127 



theater chief of transportation exercised 
control of American road movements 
through the same regional organization 
already set up to control U.S. rail moves. 
Upon request of a depot or troop unit, the 
regional transportation officer, working in 
close co-ordination with representatives of 
the British Movement Control and the 
U.S. Army provost marshal, issued move- 
ment instructions covering dates, sched- 
ules, routes, staging, and traffic control. 
Implementation of these instructions was 
the responsibility of the district trans- 
portation officers and the railway trans- 
portation officers under them. Traffic con- 
trol was performed by the base section 
provost marshal, the British Movement 
Control, or the civil police. Later, convoys 
of less than fifty vehicles moving within a 
district or between districts in the same 
region were handled directly by the dis- 
trict transportation officer concerned.'**'' 

The U.S. movement control organiza- 
tion assisted in reducing the waste of mile- 
age, gasoline, rubber, and manpower 
caused when motor convoys returned 
empty. Late in 1942 the British War 
Office suggested a return-loads plan, 
designed to promote the maximum utili- 
zation of drivers and vehicles. General 
Lee accepted this plan and charged the 
theater chief of transportation with the re- 
sponsibility for securing return loads for 
U.S. Army trucks. The plan was limited 
to vehicles dispatched on journeys in ex- 
cess of twenty-five miles. The U.S. Army 
dispatching officer would notify the re- 
gional transportation officer or the nearest 
RTO of the number of vehicles available 
for loading, their types and capacities, and 
the time of arrival at destination. If the 
RTO was unable to secure a return load 
he telephoned the regional transportation 
officer, who arranged for a load through 



the British Military Transport liaison 
officer. No return was to involve civilian 
traffic, deviate from a direct route by 
more than ten miles except in an emer- 
gency, or interfere with military opera- 
tional moves. 

Other measures were adopted to insure 
that U.S. Army vehicles had pay loads on 
every trip. Whenever possible casual ship- 
ments were pooled and transported in 
British commercial vehicles. Newly ar- 
rived organizational vehicles were used to 
forward freight to inland points while 
en route to their respective units. Periodic 
surveys were made of the utilization of 
motor transport, particularly for the 
heavy traffic between the ports and the 
depots. From its inception through 4 
March 1944 the conservation efi^ort, in- 
cluding the return-loads plan, resulted in 
an estimated saving of S686,002.20.'"" 

Control of the operation of motor trans- 
port vehicles was returned to the Trans- 
portation Corps in the summer of 1943. 
Studies conducted while this activity was 
under the Quartermaster Corps had indi- 
cated that the separation of movement 
control and operational functions did not 
lend itself to the efficient use of equip- 
ment. As a corrective measure the vehicles 
of certain motor transport units were 
pooled, to be used where and when 
needed; and, with the concurrence of the 



>«» Story of Trans in UK, pp. 109-10; Hist Rpt, TC 
ETO, Vol. I, App. 14, pp. 33-34, 70-72, and Vol. II, 
pp. 24-25. OCT HB ETO. 

'■'" Ltr, Ryan to Gross, 25 Nov 42. OCT HB Gross 
ETO — Gen Ross; 1st Ind, Hq SOS OCT ETO, to 
CofT WD, OCT 400.33-413.77 England 43; Hist Rpt, 
TC ETO, Vol. I, App. 14, p. 28, OCT HB ETO; 
Memo, Lt Col H. J. Dooley, TC, for CofT SOS ETO, 
7 Mar 44, sub: Rpt Hwy Br OCT, AG 320 Responsi- 
bilities of TC 1943-45 EUCOM. The savings were 
calculated on the basis of the British estimate of 
twenty cents a mile reloaded. See Hist Rpt, TC ETO, 
II, 28, OCT HB ETO. 



128 



THE TRANSPORTATION CORPS 



chief quartermaster of the theater, the 
operation of all motor transport not spe- 
cifically assigned to other agencies was re- 
assigned to the Transportation Corps in 
July. Anticipating this change, General 
Ross had already established the Motor 
Transport Division in his headquarters 
under Lt. Col (later Col.) Loren A. Ayers, 
who had been active in U.S. Army motor 
transportation since 1941.'-" 

As organized on 26 January 1944, the 
Motor Transport Division had three 
branches, concerned respectively with re- 
quirements, allocations to the base sec- 
tions, and unit training. The troop units 
under its control at this time consisted of 
Quartermaster truck companies. Quarter- 
master car companies for carrying person- 
nel, amphibian trucis: companies, and 
headquarters and headquarters detach- 
ments of Quartermaster battalions (mo- 
bile). Each of these units, with its equip- 
ment, was assigned to a specific base sec- 
tion for rations, quarters, administration, 
and day-to-day operational control. The 
mission of the Motor Transport Division 
was to provide general-purpose motor 
transport for the use of all elements of the 
Services of Supply and to relieve the hard- 
pressed rail and inland waterway facili- 
ties. The division determined the over-all 
requirements, allocated vehicles and troop 
units to the base sections, and supervised 
the utilization of the vehicles and the 
training and utilization of the personnel. '•'- 

In the field, the port commanders 
supervised and directed the operation of 
the vehicles and troop units allotted to 
them by the base sections. Other motor 
transport units in the base sections were 
controlled by the regional transportation 
officers through their district transporta- 
tion officers and RTO's. The regional 
transportation officers operated motor 



transport pools, organized provisional 
trucking units, and allocated vehicles to 
meet peak loads in the region and to assist 
other base sections. Under the regional 
transportation officers, the district trans- 
portation officers directed the operation of 
Transportation Corps motor transport 
units, issued orders for the movement of 
troops and freight, and co-ordinated 
movements to other districts or regions 
through the regional office. The RTO's, 
functioning under the district transporta- 
tion officers, controlled the operation of 
Transportation Corps trucking units to 
and from their installations.'" ' 

When the Motor Transport Division 
was established, motor transport was still 
a relatively minor activity, but the strain 
on railroad facilities caused by the heavy 
inbound traffic necessitated increased 
reliance on truck transportation begin- 
ning in the latter half of 1943. By March 
1944, approximately one third of all U.S. 
Army cargo cleared from United King- 
dom ports was being shipped by highway. 
This traffic was handled in part by Trans- 
portation Corps motor transport units and 
in part by civilian carriers secured through 
the British Ministry of War Transport. 
Road movements within and between 



'■" Memo, Ross for all concerned, 1 1 Jul 43, sub: 
Orgn of OCT, and Memo, Brig Gen Robert McG. 
Littlejohn, Chief QM, to Col Royal B. Lord, Chief Svs 
SOS ETO, 4 Jul 43, sub: Re-allocation of MT Duties, 
AG 320 Responsibilities of TC 1 943-45 EUCOM; 
Story of Trans in UK, p. 112; Hist Rpt, TC ETO, I, 
62 and App. 1, OCT HB ETO, Gir 45, Hq SOS 
ETOUSA, 22 Jul 43, AG Adm 71 C (ETO); IRS, 
Asst AColT MT Div to CofT, 7 Sep 43, sub: Resume 
of First Month's Work, AG 319.1 Misc Rpts 44 
EUCOM TC. 

'"- Ltr, H. Lehneis to Larson, 28 Mar 50, OCT HB 
Inquiries. See IRS, CofMT Div to CofT SOS ETO, 
25 Jan 44, and IRS, Capt ValenUne, OCT, to Lt Col 
Case, Adv Ech TC, 14 Feb 44, AG 320 Responsibili- 
ties of TC 1943-45 EUCOM. 

'•■'■■ Mist Rpt, TC ETO, Vol. I, App. 14, p. 27, OCT 
I IB ETO. 



BUILD-UP IN BRITAIN 



129 



regions also increased. Convoys of fifty or 
more vehicles, controlled by motor convoy 
officers, numbered 4,080 in March 1944, 
almost ten times the number handled in 
the previous November. As D Day drew 
near, the principal problem confronting 
the motor transport units under the juris- 
diction of the theater chief of transporta- 
tion was a shortage of 150 officers, which 
had an adverse effect upon training, ad- 
ministration, and operation."" 

Shortly after its creation, the Motor 
Transport Division began to prepare for 
the invasion of Normandy. Plans were 
worked out in the summer of 1943 regard- 
ing the number of troop units and the 
number and types of equipment to be 
used, and the assignment of extra drivers 
to permit round-the-clock operations. The 
theater Transportation Corps was unable 
to secure approval for the number of 
truck companies it considered necessary. 
To add to its troubles the procurement of 
heavy-duty equipment that it requisi- 
tioned was delayed, forcing the ac- 
ceptance of less desirable types. The pro- 
vision of personnel to serve as extra drivers 
was not authorized until the spring of 
1944, a delay adversely affecting their 
quality and training. These developments 
were to have serious consequences during 
the rapid advance of the U.S. Army on 
the Continent after the St. L6 break- 
through. ^-'"^ 

In the last months before the cross- 
Channel assault, the Motor Transport Di- 
vision worked closely with the Transporta- 
tion Corps Advance Echelon in develop- 
ing detailed plans for motor transport ac- 
tivities on the Continent. The bulk of the 
staff of the Motor Transport Division was 
eventually taken over by the Advance 
Echelon, which moved to France after D 
Day. The rear echelon in London became 



the Motor Transport Division of the 
United Kingdom Base Section. Mean- 
while, a month before the invasion, a 
Motor Transport Brigade was established 
as part of the Advance Section, Com- 
munications Zone, and prepared to as- 
sume control of initial zone of communi- 
cations motor transport activities on the 
Continent.^'"' 

Equipment and Supplies 

The first equipment requisitioned by 
the Transportation Corps in the United 
Kingdom was intended for U.S. Army 
port operations. The theater chief of 
transportation did not become directly 
responsible for the procurement of mili- 
tary railway equipment until late 1942, 
when that function was transferred from 
the theater chief of engineers. Neverthe- 
less, in July of that year Ross had begun 
to explore the possibility of fabricating all 
required railway rolling stock in the 
British Isles, using imported American 
steel. The project was never carried out, in 
large measure because of the shortage of 
qualified British labor. '■'' 

Freight Cars for the Continent 

Meanwhile, Maj. Frank E. Cheshire, 
an officer experienced in the field of rail- 

i«^Hist Rpt, TC ETO, 11, 24, OCT HB ETO; 
Memo, DCofT SOS ETO for CofT ASF, 29 Mar 44, 
sub: Rpt MT Activities ETO, AG 319.1 Rpt to CofT 
Washington, EUCOM. 

'■'■' On Transportation Corps planning for motor 
transport on the Continent, see below, pp. 234-35, 
239-42. 

'■'« IRS, CofS Br MTS OCT to Chief MTS OCT, 
29 Dec 44, sub: Reorgn MTS OCT, AG 320 Respon- 
sibilities of TC 1943-45 EUCOM; A Brief Outline 
History of the Motor Transport Service, pp. 6-7, 10, 
OCT HB ETO MTS. 

"•' Ltrs, Ross for Gross, 19 Jun and 8 Jul 42, OCT 
HB Gross Day File. Cf Hancock and Gowing, op cil., 
pp. 480-83. 



130 



THE TRANSPORTATION CORPS 



way equipment, had been assigned to 
assess the freight car requirements for the 
European theater. Personal observation in 
the United Kingdom had impressed him 
with the utility of the small British 4-wheel 
goods wagon, or freight car. Accordingly, 
in the summer of 1942 he designed a simi- 
lar knocked-down 4-wheel, 20-ton freight 
car that required a minimum of material 
and shipping space, was easy to assemble, 
and had an expected service life of four to 
five years. Although other types would be 
needed, this car was considered basic. 
Initially, some 22,400 cars of this type 
(open and box) were projected. Each car 
was to be so fitted as to be readily inter- 
changeable with British equipment. Fur- 
ther savings in metal and in weight were 
to be achieved by using plywood for the 
roof, sides, and ends. Cheshire's original 
design was rejected as impractical by the 
U.S. Army Engineer Board, but a modi- 
fied 4-wheel 20-ton car was adapted for 
Army use. It was built with heavier steel 
sections than Cheshire had deemed nec- 
essary, and the fabrication was by riveting 
rather than by welding as he had advo- 
cated.'-'^ 

After consultation with the theater, the 
War Department drew up a program for 
the shipment of 29,000 railway cars to the 
United Kingdom. As visualized on 1 Sep- 
tember 1942, the requirements included 
16,000 20-ton boxcars, 9,600 gondolas of 
20-ton and 40-ton capacity, 3,200 56-ton 
flatcars, and smaller numbers of tank, 
brake van, and refrigerator cars. All rail- 
way cars were to be fabricated in the zone 
of interior and shipped knocked-down for 
assembly overseas. Shipment was to be at 
the rate of 2,500 cars month beginning 
in October 1942.'"" 

During the winter of 1942-43 the Trans- 
portation Corps in the United Kingdom 



negotiated with the British to obtain the 
Hainault railway sheds and siding near 
London as a plant for the erection of the 
knocked-down, American-built freight 
cars. Originally planned to serve the Lon- 
don subway but never completed, the site 
was deemed the most desirable for this 
project despite some danger of air attack. 
Initially, two railway tracks were to be 
constructed, one for assembly and erec- 
tion, and the other for storage. Although 
the Transportation Corps had completed 
plans to use the facilities at Hainault in 
March 1943, the installation was not for- 
mally activated as a Transportation Corps 
depot until mid-July. Up to that time only 
356 knocked-down cars had been re- 
ceived.^'"* 

The activity at Hainault afforded valu- 
able training. Assembling a 20-ton boxcar, 
for instance, took place in eleven stages, 
ending with the touch-up paint and the 
stencil that identified the car as a unit of 
the U.S. Army Transportation Corps. 
From July to September 1943 a detach- 



'"" Story of Trans in UK, p. 119; Memo, Maj J. M. 
Poorman, OCT, for AG, 13 Jun 42, sub: Orders, OCT 
210.3 England 42; Memo, Col Ryan for Col Lewis T.. 
Ross, OCofE WD, 24 Jul 42, sub: Plans for New RR 
Car, Memo, Ryan for Traub, 5 Aug 42, sub: Re . . . 
Rolling Stock, and Ltr, Cheshire to Ryan, 15 Aug 42, 
OCT HB ETO Rys (Hist Data to May 43); Ltr, Ross 
to Gross, 10 Sep 42, OCT HB Gross ETO— Gen Ross; 
Ltr, Cheshire to Larson, 6 Sep 49, OCT HB Inquiries. 

•''» Paraphrase of Cbl, WD to CG USFOR, 8 Aug 
42; Memo, Chief Ry Br Troops Div OCofE for Chief 
Sup Div, 1 Sep 42, sub: Cars for Stock Pile. Both in 
OCT 370.5 Mvmt Bolero (Ry Equip and Ry Pers 
Rqmts.) 

-"" Memo, CG SOS ETO for CG ASF WD, 25 Mar 
43, sub: Standard Gauge Ry Cars; Notes of Mtg at 
War Office, 25 Mar 43, sub: Hainault Ry Depot. Both 
in OCT HB ETO Rys (Hist Data to May 43). See also 
Memo, Ross for Gross, 28 May 43, sub: Rpt Mil Ry 
Activities ETO, OCT 453 England Jan-Jun 43; 
Memos, Ross for Gross, 14 and 30 Jul 43, same sub, 
OCT 319.1 England Jan-Sep 43; Ltr, Ross to Gross, 
26 Nov 43, OCT 453 England JuUDec 43. 



BUILD-UP IN BRITAIN 



131 



ment of the 729th Railway Operating Bat- 
talion, consisting of mechanics recruited 
from U.S. railroads, pioneered in the 
assembly work at Hainault. Thereafter, 
the 756th Railway Shop Battalion under 
Lt. Col. Howard U. Bates rolled up an 
impressive record. The heaviest produc- 
tion was attained in June 1944 when 1 ,147 
cars were erected."'" 

In addition to the Hainault facilities, 
other installations were set up to handle 
Transportation Corps equipment, spare 
parts, and supplies for use in the United 
Kingdom and on the Continent. By mid- 
August 1943, depots had been established 
at Ebbw Junction to store spare parts for 
locomotive repairs and at Highbridge to 
store spare parts for 0-6-0 locomotives and 
organizational equipment for port and 
railway units. Transportation sections also 
functioned at four general depots in the 
United Kingdom: Sudbury-Egginton, 
Moreton-on-Lugg, Wem, and Burton-on- 
Trent. The first three were concerned with 
the assembly and storage of knocked- 
down railway cars, and the fourth housed 
spare parts for 2-8-0 locomotives and the 
overflow of organizational equipment. '"' 

Although the assembly of 20-ton freight 
cars accounted for the bulk of the car- 
erection project, special attention had to 
be given to refrigerator cars. During the 
summer of 1943, because of unusually 
warm weather, the scarcity of suitable rail 
equipment, and the problem of getting ice, 
the U.S. Army Quartermaster Corps ex- 
perienced difficulty in moving perishables 
over the British railways. In an effort to 
safeguard the food destined for American 
military personnel, the theater requested 
that unassembled refrigerator cars be given 
priority shipment from the United States. 
By 30 September 1943, 100 had arrived 
in the United Kingdom.-"^ 



By 30 May 1944 a total of 20,351 
wagons or cars of all types had reached the 
theater, including 9,270 20-ton boxcars, 
5,050 20-ton gondolas, 2,891 40-ton gon- 
dolas, 1,530 56-ton flat cars, and smaller 
numbers of 20-ton caboose, 40-ton tank, 
and refrigerator cars. Most of the 7,106 
erected units had been assembled at 
Hainault, but appreciable numbers were 
set up at Sudbury-Egginton and Moreton- 
on-Lugg.""^ 

Hospital Trains and Unit Cars 

The arrangement for the assembly of 
American rolling stock in the United 
Kingdom included only freight cars. 
Other arrangements had to be made, 
therefore, to provide the specialized rail- 
way equipment required to move sick and 
wounded U.S. Army personnel within the 
theater. 

Despite wartime shortages of materiel 
and labor, some progress was made during 
1943-44 in obtaining hospital trains. This 
was accomplished through the co-opera- 
tion of the theater chief of transportation 



■">' Hist Rpt, TC ETO, L 68-70, OCT HB ETO; 
Ltr, Ross to Gross, 26 Nov 43, OCT 453 England Jul- 
Dec 43; Hist Red, 729th Ry Operating Bn, 15 Jan 44, 
and Rpt, Technical Operations Depot TC-201 and 
TC-203, 756th Railway Operating Battalion, 14 Dec 
44, OCT HB ETO France Rys Unit Rpts. 

-"- Memo, Ross for Gross, Sep 43, sub: Rpt Mil Ry 
Activities ETO, OCT 453 England Jul-Dec 43; 
Memo, Ross for Gross, 30 Jul 43, same sub, OCT 
319.1 England. 

-" ■ Extract, Phone Conv, Ross and Wylie, 7 Aug 43, 
OCT 319.1 England (Tel Conv) 43; Memo, Ross for 
Gross, Sep 43, sub: Rpt Mil Ry Activities ETO, and 
Ltr. Ross to Gross, 26 Nov 43, OCT 453 England 
Jul-Dec 43; Memo, ACofT for Sup for CG ASF, 8 Sep 
43, sub: Ry Cars, Refrigerator, OCT 531.4, 1942; 
Summary Rolling Stock Position, OCT SOS ETO, 30 
Sep 43, OCT 3 19.1 England Jan-Sep 43. 

-»^ Summary Rolling Stock Position, OCT SOS 
ETO, 30 May 44, AG 3 19. 1 Rpt to CofT Washington. 



132 



THE TRANSPORTATION CORPS 



and the chief surgeon with the assistance 
of the British. By late June 1943 a decision 
had been reached in Washington that, in 
order to save shipping space, hospital 
trains would be procured in the United 
Kingdom. Some old British cars held over 
from World War I were pressed into serv- 
ice, and additional hospital trains were 
made up from available wooden cars. The 
conversion work was accomplished under 
U.S. Army supervision at the Swindon 
railway shops."'" By 1 September 1943 fif- 
teen hospital trains had been made avail- 
able in the United Kingdom, and three 
self-contained ambulance-unit cars, de- 
signed to transport small groups of casual- 
ties, were in process of conversion from 
British railway equipment.-"" 

A hospital train consisted of fourteen 
cars: seven or eight ward cars equipped 
with triple-deck hospital beds or litter 
racks, a pharmacy-office-surgery car con- 
taining an operating room with the mini- 
mum equipment, kitchen cars, sleeping 
cars for the train personnel, and a utility 
car to provide heat. Made up of old and 
hastily converted equipment, the hospital 
trains fell far short of American specifica- 
tions. The wooden cars were hazardous in 
case of fire or accident, and the heating 
and ventilation were found inadequate. 

The hospital trains were employed in 
the United Kingdom to move patients 
from one hospital to another or to the 
ports for evacuation to the United States. 
The chief surgeon of the theater provided 
the medical staff", equipment, and supplies, 
and controlled the utilization of the trains. 
Their operation as railway equipment was 
supervised by the theater chief of trans- 
portation, who also furnished a small 
maintenance crew. By D Day twenty- 
seven hospital trains intended for use on 
the Continent had been converted or were 



nearing completion. At the end of 1944 
twenty-five such trains had been ferried 
across the Channel and placed in opera- 
tion in France. A number were continued 
in use in the United Kingdom after the 
invasion to move casualties from a num- 
ber of transit hospitals on the south coast 
of England to general hospitals in the inte- 
rior. Later, all patients were debarked at 
Southampton, whence hospital trains car- 
ried them directly to the general hospi- 
tals.-"' 

Marine Equipment 

The port operating equipment received 
in the United Kingdom in 1942 was chiefly 
that that accompanied the port battalions. 
Much of this equipment was diverted to 
North Africa, compelling the theater chief 
of transportation to start anew to obtain 
the equipment required for port opera- 
tions in the United Kingdom and on the 
Continent. For the first phase of the inva- 
sion (D Day to D plus 90) the U.S. Army 



-•"■ Memo, Conf, Gen Dillon's Office, OCT WD, 10 
Jun 42, OCT 370.5 Mvmt Bolero (Ry Equip and Rv 
Pers Rqmts); IRS, DCofT to CofT APO 887, 26 Apr 
43, sub: Rpt for CofT Washington, OCT 319.1 Eng- 
land; Memo, Chief Rail Div OCT, for ACofT for Sup 
OCT, 26Jun 43, sub: Trans Shortages, OCT 531.4 
Hosp Trains. 

-'"' On ambulance-unit cars, the first of which was 
delivered on 17 September 1943, see the following: 
Memo, Ross for Gross, 30 Sep 43, sub: Rpt Mil Ry 
Activities ETO, OCT 319.1 England; Hist Rpt TC 
ETO, Vol. I, App. 1 1, Diagram, Ambulance Unit, 
OCT HB ETO; Comments, Capt James W. Rowe, 
SCO, 1 1 Oct 44, OCT HB ETO Evacuation. 

-'"• Hist Rpt, TC ETO, Vol. I, pp. 27-28, Vol. Ill, 
Ch. Ill, pp. 3-4, OCT HB ETO; Memo, AColT for 
Sup OCT for SCO, 8 Jul 43, sub: Hosp Trains, OCT 
53 1.4 Hosp Trains; Ltr, Ross to Gross, 6 Jun 44, OCT 
HB Gross ETO— Gen Ross; Gen Bd Rpt, Study No. 
124, pp. 54-55, OCT HB ETO. See also Comments, 
Capt Rowe, SGO Medical Plans and Opns, and 
Memo, Col Fred H. Mowrey, MC, for 20 Sep 47, sub: 
Hosp Trains, OCT HB ETO Evacuation. 



BUILD-UP IN BRITAIN 



133 



requirements for the Continent were de- 
termined jointly with the British with a 
view to setting up a joint stockpile. For the 
second phase (after D plus 90), the Ameri- 
can requirements for the Continent were 
calculated by the chief of transportation's 
Planning Division and submitted to the 
War Department as special Transporta- 
tion Corps projects. '"^ Among the marine 
items included in approved Transporta- 
tion Corps projects were 473 104-foot 
knocked-down steel barges and 400 60- 
foot knocked-down wooden barges, to- 
gether with oil tankers, launches, marine 
tractors, tugs, and towboats.^"'' 

Aside from receiving and maintaining 
all U.S. Army port and marine equip- 
ment, the Transportation Corps supervised 
the assembly of the items which were 
shipped in knocked-down condition. The 
erection of barges was begun early in 1944 
by private British contractors working 
under the supervision of the theater chief 
of transportation. The wooden barges 
were set up at Totnes and the steel barges 
at Hayle and Truro. The program called 
for 120 steel barges and 220 wooden 
barges to be ready for use by 31 May 
1944. To meet this goal. General Ross re- 
quested that the 386th Port Battalion, a 
Negro unit, be used along with British 
civilians at Totnes. The labor unions ob- 
jected, but eventually agreed to an ar- 
rangement whereby U.S. Army personnel 
were allowed to assist in the work as a 
means of obtaining practical training 
essential to future military operations. 

Despite considerable difficulty in attain- 
ing the scheduled production, by the end 
of May 1944 a total of 1 76 steel barges had 
been assembled at Hayle and Truro, and 
at Totnes all 400 wooden barges were com- 
pleted two weeks ahead of the target date. 
Other assembly activities included the 



erection of 30-ton and 60-ton floating 
cranes at various ports. '"' 

As the invasion date drew near, marine 
equipment poured into the British Isles. 
More than 100 tugs, up to 86 feet in 
length, were shipped as deck cargo. The 
larger seagoing tugs generally proceeded 
to the theater under their own power, 
while other floating equipment, notably 
the oil barges and car floats to be used for 
cross-Channel ferrying of petroleum prod- 
ucts and railway rolling stock, had to be 
towed on the hazardous passage across the 
Atlantic. These craft were to play a vital 
role in the invasion of France. At South- 
ampton, for example, three tugs of the 
329th Harbor Craft Company towed units 
for the artificial harbor to the far shore, 
and a fourth was active in the initial Nor- 
mandy landings. The failure of twenty- 
three large ocean-going tugs to arrive by 
D Day was a serious blow. Production 
difficulties were blamed for this deficiency, 
which was made up as far as possible by 
substituting other craft from the United 
States.'" 

-"^ Hist Rpt, TC ETO, I, 17-18, OCT HB ETO; 
Interv, Col Traub, 5 Apr 50, OCT HB ETO Ping & 
Preparations. 

-"■' AG Ltr, 20 Oct 43, sub: Special Projects (Trans) 
ETO, OCT 400 England (Special Projects-Trans) 43; 
Memo, Actg Dir Sup TC for Exec Office ACofT for 
Opns ASF WD, 3 Nov 43, sub: Fltg Equip, OCT 
541.2-563.4 England 43; Ltr, Gen Ross to Col Worth- 
ington, OCT, 1 2 Nov 43, OCT 319.1 England Oct- 
Dec 43. 

-'"Hist Rpt. TC ETO, H, 61-62, 64, OCT HB 
ETO; Hist Rpt, 13th Port, May 44, p. 13, OCT HB 
Oversea Ports; Ltr, Ross to Larson, 5 Dec 49, OCT 
HB Inquiries; Consolidated Rpt on TC Activities in 
ETO, Annex 4, p. 3. 

-'" Ltr, Ross to Gross, 6 Jun 44, and Memo, Chief 
Water Div OCT for CofT ASF, 9 Jun 44, sub: Tugs 
for ETO, OCT HB Gross ETO— Gen Ross. Hist Red, 
14th Port, Jun 44 (329th Harbor Craft Co), OCT HB 
Oversea Ports 14th Port; OCT HB Monograph 19. pp. 
201-02. On the towing, which was performed by the 
U.S. Navy, see AG 560 Barges 12/44-12/45 
EUCOM. 



134 



THE TRANSPORTATION CORPS 



Spare Parts and Supplies 

Because of the relatively slow increase 
in Transportation Corps personnel in the 
United Kingdom, supply was not a press- 
ing problem until 1943. During 1942 a 
substantial amount of equipment and 
supplies was obtained from the British, 
including 70,000 life belts; 3 harbor craft; 
10 mobile cranes; 3 diesel locomotives; 
100 motor coaches converted for use as 
ambulances; and 30 tons of locomotive 
spare paits for both heavy and running 
repairs. Thereafter requirements mounted. 
In addition to current requirements, the 
theater chief of transportation had to con- 
tribute to the joint American-British stock- 
pile being built up for use on the Conti- 
nent from D Day to D plus 90.-^- 

From the beginning General Ross was 
faced with the problem of securing suffi- 
cient spare parts, and in the fall of 1943 
he was especially concerned over spare 
parts for the 400 Bolero 2-8-0 locomo- 
tives. Late in the year Maj. John W. 
Marsh, assigned by Ross to investigate the 
spare parts situation in the United King- 
dom, found that, apart from a lack of in- 
formation as to what was needed and what 
was available, confusion existed as to iden- 
tification and nomenclature. Marsh also 
found that the spare parts depot at Burton- 
on-Trent was an old wooden building with 
no lighting and with other deficiencies, and 
that the officer-in-charge there was handi- 
capped by a lack of mechanical equipment 
and by unfamiliarity with the names and 
functions of many of the parts carried in 
stock. In his report. Marsh recommended 
that railway spare parts be shipped from 
the United States automatically, that is, 
periodically without waiting for requisi- 
tions; that a standard nomenclature be 
adopted; that a spare parts catalog be pre- 



pared; and that a qualified storekeeper be 
assigned to the European theater to super- 
vise the storage and issue of railway equip- 
ment and parts.-^ ' 

The spare parts problem was accentu- 
ated by the comparatively wide range of 
transportation items that ultimately had 
to be procured. Unfortunately, much of 
this equipment was not standardized. 
Moreover, being a newly established tech- 
nical service, the Transportation Corps 
had only begun to establish the needed 
equipment catalogs, standard nomencla- 
ture lists, and technical manuals, and 
lacked the accumulated experience with 
respect to replacement and mortality fac- 
tors that the other technical services had 
developed through the years. Eventually, 
as such aids were developed and the requi- 
site experience was gained, the spare parts 
situation became much less acute.' ^^ 

In recognition of the growing signifi- 
cance of his supply activity. General Ross 
established a new Supply Division under 
Col. Leonard F. Felio in October 1943. 
The division was made responsible for the 
procurement, storage, and issue of all 
transportation equipment authorized for 
Transportation Corps units, as well as the 
Transportation Corps supplies and equip- 
ment required for operational projects on 
the Continent. As previously noted, dur- 
ing 1943 the Transportation Corps ob- 
tained considerable additional depot space 
for the storage and issue of its materiel, 



-'- Memo, Chief Procurement Div OCT SOS 
ETOUSA for Gen Purchasing Agent London Ech 
SOS APO 887, 20 Jan 43, sub: Rpt of Direct Procure- 
ment on Reciprocal Aid by TC, OCT HB ETO Sup. 

-' ' Memo, Ross for Gross, Sep 43, sub: Mil Ry Ac- 
tivities ETO, OCT 453 England Jul-Dec 43; Memo, 
Actg ACofT for Sup for Chief Field Svs Gp OCT, 25 
Oct 43, sub: Spare Parts, OCT 453.3 1 England 43. 

-" Hist Rpt, TC ETO, Vol. Ill, Gh. XIII, pp. 1-3, 
OCT HB ETO. 



BUILD-UP IN BRITAIN 



135 



much of which was intended for use on the 
Continent, and at the close of June 1944 
the Corps occupied 143,000 scjuare feet of 
covered space, 4,157,000 square feet of 
open space, and 136,000 square feet of shop 
space, distributed among ten depots. By 
that time the Supply Division had re- 
viewed and approved more than 2,400 
requisitions and had issued approximately 
4,000 shipping releases, indicating to the 
ports of discharge, RTO's, and receiving 
units concerned the disposition of supplies 
scheduled to arrive."' ' 

During the critical period April-June 
1944, besides receiving supplies from the 
United States and issuing organizational 
equipment to units, the Supply Division 
had to arrange for the movement of trans- 
portation equipment to the Continent. 
Since not enough port equipment had 
arrived to permit issuance of the entire 
amount authorized for each unit, the Sup- 
ply Division and the Marine Operations 
Division had to apportion the available 
items among the ports in the United King- 
dom and on the Continent. Air shipment 
was requested for many spare parts for 
marine engines, tugs, and tankers. 

The Supply Division was responsible for 
keeping stock records of all items on hand 
and en route, for issuing equipment to 
newly arrived units, for establishing re- 
quirements for all equipment and supplies 
not automatically provided, and for main- 
taining liaison with appropriate British 
agencies with a view to local procurement 
wherever possible. It had mastered these 
details fairly well by the time activities 
were transferred to the Continent.-^'' 



The Situation on D Day 

During the build-up period the Trans- 
portation Corps, with the aid of the Brit- 
ish, successfully handled the transportation 
activities involved in the accumulation of 
American men and materials in the United 
Kingdom. As strategic planning firmed 
up and inbound traffic reached large-scale 
proportions in the latter half of 1943, the 
Transportation Corps gave increasing 
attention to preparations for the invasion 
of the Continent.'' On 6 June 1944 Gen- 
eral Ross expressed his belief that prepara- 
tions for the most part had been success- 
ful. This was true despite the delay in the 
arrival of certain large tugs, the late arrival 
of personnel, and the failure to obtain de- 
sired heavy-duty motor vehicles."''' Ahead 
lay the task of transferring a large part of 
the men and supplies accumulated in 
Britain to the Continent, and undertaking 
there the transportation operations re- 
quired for the support of U.S. forces in 
combat. Before going into that, however, 
it is necessary to discuss transportation 
problems in North Africa and the Medi- 
terranean. 



->' Ibid., pp. 3-4; Ltr, Ross to Gross, 18 May 43, 
OCT HB Gross ETO — Gen Ross; Memo, Ross for 
Gross, lOJun 43, sub: Depot Cos TC, OCT 319.1 
England Jan-Sep 43; Memo, Gross for Ross, Sep 43, 
sub: Rpt Mil Ry Activities ETO, OCT 453 England 
Jul-Dec 43. 

-'" Hist Rpt. TC ETO, Vol. Ill, Ch. XIII, pp. 1-5, 
OCT HB ETO; Rpt, History and Activities, OCT 
Supply Division, 29 Aug 45, OCT HB ETO Sup Div. 

-^' For details on Transportation Corps participa- 
tion in the planning and execution of Overlord, see 
below, Ch. VI. 

-"" Ltr, Ross to Gross, 6 Jun 44, OCT HB Gross 
ETO — Gen Ross. 



CHAPTER IV 



North Africa 



Transportation for the invasion of North 
Africa, the first major AUied offensive of 
the war, was a combined enterprise draw- 
ing on both American and British ship- 
ping. After the initial phase, during which 
U.S. troops and cargo were forwarded 
from both the United Kingdom and the 
United States, the American forces re- 
ceived their principal support directly 
from the United States. The bulk of the 
men and materiel had to be moved ap- 
proximately 3,400 miles ' across the At- 
lantic during a time of intensive Axis 
submarine warfare and when naval escorts 
and ocean shipping space were at a pre- 
mium. In order to land personnel and 
cargo and transport them to the fighting 
front, the Americans had to engage in 
port, railway, and motor transport opera- 
tions. (Map 3) These activities not only 
required close co-ordination with the 
British but also involved the French, who 
owned the basic transportation facilities, 
and the local Arab population. 

In many respects the campaign was a 
pioneering venture in wartime transporta- 
tion operations. Without extensive experi- 
ence in planning, mounting, and support- 
ing a large assault force, the U.S. Army 
had much to learn and encountered nu- 
merous difficulties. Yet, despite limited 
facilities, adverse weather, language bar- 
riers, and grave shortages of men and 
equipment, the necessary transportation 
job was done.- 



The Strategic Background 

When, in July 1942, the U.S. and Brit- 
ish leaders decided to undertake the inva- 
sion of French North Africa, the Allied 
military outlook was bleak. In Europe the 
Germans had driven the Soviet Army 
back toward the Caucasus, in Africa the 
British had lost Tobruk, and in the Far 
East the Japanese had advanced almost as 
far south as Australia. Although Ameri- 
can strategic planners believed that a 
North African invasion might well rule 
out a cross-Channel operation during 
1943, there were numerous advantages to 
be gained from such an operation. It 
would bring American forces into action 
against the enemy at an early date and 
would provide additional bases from 
which to attack Axis-held Europe. From a 
shipping point of view, the operation 
would open the Mediterranean route to 
the Middle East and India, thereby mak- 
ing unnecessary the long voyage around 
the Cape of Good Hope. While the pro- 
jected invasion obviously did not meet 
Stalin's demand for a second front on the 



' The distance from New York, the main supply 
port for the North African theater, by the shortest 
navigable route to Oran via Gibraltar. See Table of 
Distances Between Ports via the Shortest Navigable Routes, 
as Determined by the Hydrographic Office, United States 
Navy Department (Washington: U.S. Navy Department 
Hydrographic Office, 1943), pp. 280, 293. 

- OCT HB Monograph 9, pp. 1-3. 



NOR IH AFRICA 



137 



European continent, it at least won his 
acquiescence. ' 

The abrupt shift from preparations for 
an invasion of the European continent to 
an entirely different operation necessitated 
radical readjustments in planning and 
preparations. Limitations of time, the de- 
lay in reaching a final determination of 
the objectives, strength, and timing of the 
invasion, and other factors created serious 
logistical difficulties, and, as one student 
of military logistics has noted, ''turned the 
whole process of preparation into a feat of 
improvisation." ' 

In late October 1942, approximately 
three months after the decision to under- 
take the invasion, three task forces, total- 
ing some 107,000 American and British 
troops, set sail under naval escort for 
North Africa. Two forces (the Center and 
Eastern) were mounted from the United 
Kingdom to capture, respectively, Oran 
and Algiers. A third force (the Western) 
was dispatched from the United States to 
seize Casablanca. The landings took place 
as scheduled on 8 November, and within 
forty-eight hours the major ports and air- 
fields in French Morocco and Algeria had 
been secured. Then followed the race to 
occupy Tunisia ahead of the Axis. This 
race the Allies lost, since the Germans 
reacted swiftly. They seized the ports of 
Tunis and Bizerte and rushed in sufficient 
reinforcements to halt the Allies just short 
of the Tunisian plain. The onset of winter 
rains brought a temporary stalemate, 
marked by bitter but indecisive fighting. 

In the ensuing contest in 1943 the initial 
advantages of transportation and supply 
fell to the Axis powers. They had rela- 
tively short air and sea lines of communi- 
cation between Italy and Tunisia, while 
the Allies had to transport most of their 
men and supplies over the broad and dan- 



gerous Atlantic to Casablanca, whence 
supplies had to be hauled 1,400 miles 
overland to Tunisia or through the Strait 
of Gibraltar to Mediterranean ports closer 
to the fighting front, notably Oran and 
Algiers. Nevertheless, by exploiting and 
expanding available port facilities and 
improving rail and highway transporta- 
tion operations, the Allies were able to 
bring in and sustain a far larger force than 
the enemy. After repulsing the German 
thrust through Kasserine Pass in central 
Tunisia in February, the Allies regained 
the initiative and in April launched an 
oflfensive aimed at Tunis and Bizerte. Of 
considerable assistance in the support of 
the advancing American forces were the 
arrival in North Africa of motor transport 
and rail equipment, shipped by special 
convoy from the United States, and the 
utilization of small forward ports to the 
east of Algiers. At the same time the Allies 
were increasingly successful in cutting oflf 
Axis support by sea and air, thereby has- 
tening the surrender of the enemy in May 
1943.-^ 

Plans and Preparations 

The period of active planning for the 
North African invasion began in late July 
1942 when the Combined Chiefs of StaflT 
(CCS) '^ directed that the planning for 

' George F. Howe, Operations in Northwest Africa: 
1942-1943. a volume in preparation for the series 
UNITED STATES ARMY IN WORLD WAR II. 
Ch. \, passim; Matloff and Snell, Strategic Planning for 
Coalition Warfare: 1941-1942, pp. 266-84, 328-29. 

' Leighton and Coakley. Global Logistics and Strategy: 
1940-1943, p. 453. See also, pp. 139-44, below. 

'' Biennial Report of the Chief of Staff of the United 
States Army, July 1 , 1941 , to June 30, 1943, to the Secre- 
tary of War, pp.' 29-33, 35-42; OCT HB Monograph 
9, pp. 4-6. 

'' The Combined Chiefs of Staff consisted of the 
British Chiefs of Staff for Army, Navy, and Air or 
their representatives and the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff. 



138 



THE TRANSPORTATION CORPS 




MAP 3 

Oran and Algiers should take place in 
London and that for Casablanca in Wash- 
ington. The code name Torch was as- 
signed to the operation, and early in 
August 1942 General Eisenhower was 
appointed Commander in Chief, Allied 
Expeditionary Force. In the same month 
at Norfolk House in London, under Gen- 
eral Eisenhower's deputy, Maj. Gen. (later 
Lt. Gen.) Mark W. Clark, a combined staff 
of American and British officers began 
working on the plans for the invasion. The 
theater chief of transportation, Colonel 
Ross, was represented at Norfolk House 



by his principal planner. Colonel Stewart. 
Among other transportation officers who 
assisted in the planning was the chief of 
the Transportation Corps Planning Divi- 
sion in Washington, Colonel Stokes, who 
helped co-ordinate the planning in the 
United Kingdom with that in the United 
States.^ 



' History of Allied Force Headquarters and Head- 
quarters NATOUSA (hereafter cited as Hist of 
AFHQ), Pt. I, August 1942 to December 1942, pp. 
1-4, 15-16, DRB AGO; OCT HB Monograph 9, pp. 
9-12; Ltr, Ross to Gross, 10 Sep 42, OCT HB Gross 
ETO— Gen Ross. 



NORTH AFRICA 



139 




LINES OF COMMUNICATION 
IN FRENCH NORTH AFRICA 



— Main road 

— RfllLROflD, NORMAL GAUGE, SINGLE TRACK 

— Railroad, narrow gauge, single track 
Principal ports are underlined 



ISO 200 Kl LOMETE 



The planners worked under several 
serious handicaps. Divergent American 
and British interests had to be reconciled 
and decisions reached as to what each 
nation would contribute to the common 
effort. The many details that had to be 
ironed out between the two widely sepa- 
rated planning centers in London and 
Washington resulted in voluminous com- 
munications, which on occasion developed 
into a veritable "transatlantic essay con- 
test." ^ American supplies and equipment 
shipped to the United Kingdom, which 
could be made available for the invasion, 



sometimes were lost en route or were mis- 
placed in the theater, necessitating dupli- 
cate and even triplicate shipments from 
all-too-often inadequate stocks. 

The entire operation was hemmed in 
by various contingencies. The French 
might resist the Allied invaders, or the 
Spanish might prove hostile. Even the 
weather was a worry, since it could hinder 
the landings. Moreover, the July decision 
had left undetermined the time, size, and 

^ Capt. Harry C. Butcher, USNR, My Three Years 
With Eisenhower (New York: Simon and Schuster, 
1946). p. 85. 



140 



THE TRANSPORTATION CORPS 



place of the initial assaults. There was 
considerable disagreement as to whether 
or not there should be simultaneous land- 
ings outside and inside the Mediterranean. 
At one point in August, when it appeared 
that the naval strength available would 
not support three major landings simul- 
taneously. General Eisenhower recom- 
mended abandoning the assault on Casa- 
blanca and concentrating the attack in- 
side the Mediterranean with a view to a 
swift advance into Tunisia. This course of 
action was considered too hazardous in 
Washington, and Casablanca was retained 
as an objective. Finally, in September, 
agreement was reached on simultaneous 
inside and outside landings, the troop 
strength for the assault was made predoni- 
inantly American, and D Day was set ten- 
tatively for early November. The delay in 
arriving at these decisions inevitably com- 
plicated the task of determining over-all 
military requirements and made difficult 
the job of providing the necessary supplies, 
equipment, and transportation to effect 
and support the invasion." 

In the aggregate, the Torch planners 
were confronted by two distinct sets of 
limiting factors. The first pertained pri- 
marily to the assault phase, when plans 
hinged upon securing the required naval 
escorts and combat loaders for the invad- 
ing forces.'" The second related to the sup- 
port phase, when the principal limitations 
were the size and frequency of ocean con- 
voys and the capacity of ports in the the- 
ater to accommodate them. The tight 
shipping situation was relieved insofar as 
Torch was concerned by the high priority 
accorded that operation. Troop and cargo 
vessels were withdrawn from other impor- 
tant programs, including Bolero and the 
convoys to the northern Soviet ports. De- 
spite minor crises that developed from 



time to time," sufficient vessels were pro- 
vided. The basic problem was not ship- 
ping, but rather the number of vessels the 
navies could safely escort. Slow cargo con- 
voys originating in American waters were 
limited to forty-five vessels by the U.S. 
Navy, and similar convoys from the 
United Kingdom were restricted by the 
Royal Navy to fifty-five ships. Fast troop 
convoys from the United States and the 
United Kingdom were limited, respec- 
tively, to twenty and twenty-five vessels. 
These convoy limitations were to exercise 
a highly restrictive influence on the flow 
of supplies into the theater and caused the 
Army repeatedly to request their relaxa- 
tion. The situation was eased beginning 
early in 1943 by adding special convoys to 
the regular schedule and by permitting 
fast tankers to sail unescorted from the 
Caribbean. It was further eased in April 
when the Navy's February authorization 
of 60-vessel convoys was put into effect. 
The convoy restrictions, even when liber- 
alized, proved a greater limitation on the 
support of the North African campaign 

"Ibid., pp. 82^87; OCT HB Monograph 9, pp. 
14-22. 28-29: Howe, Operations in Northwest Africa. 
Ch. II, passu?/; Leighton and Coaklev, op. cit., pp. 
417-24. 

'" Combat loaders were specially equipped vessels 
that carried both the assault troops and their essential 
weapons, vehicles, and supplies, so stowed as to facili- 
tate immediate use on a hostile shore. See Samuel Eliot 
Morison, History of Uruted Stales Naval Operations in 
World War II, Vol. II, Operations in North African 
Waters, October 1942 -June 1943 (Boston: Little, Brown 
and Company, 1947), p. 27. Combat loading was 
always wasteful of shipping space. 

" In this category were the shipment of coal to the 
United Kingdom and the British recjuest for addi- 
tional shipping to meet its Torch commitments, for 
which acceptable arrangements were finally reached. 
The procurement of vessels for a proposed Northern 
Task Force was considered but did not become neces- 
sary because no enemy action developed in the neigh- 
boring Spanish territory. See OCT HB Monograph 9, 
pp. 22-28; Notes on Ping Torch, OCT HB North 
Africa; and Misc ping data in TC folders Torch, 15 
Jul 42-6 Mar 43, OCT HB Overseas Opn Gp. 



NORTH AFRICA 



141 



than the theater's port accommodation 
and discharge capacity. With few excep- 
tions, the ports were to be capable of un- 
loading greater tonnages than the convoys 
could bring in.'- 

In preparation for the invasion the 
Transportation Corps planners in London 
made a careful study of the port, rail, and 
highway facilities in French North Africa. 
Detailed reports, including maps, were 
prepared for all the important ports on 
the basis of the latest available intelli- 
gence. The key figure in the planning for 
the projected port activity was an experi- 
enced steamship man, Maj. (later Lt. 
Col.) Chester F. Sharp. After a survey of 
the berthing capacity of each port in 
peacetime and after due allowance for 
possible enemy demolition or interference, 
Sharp computed the number of hatches 
that presumably could be worked at given 
periods in each port. Then he tried to de- 
termine how many tons of cargo per hour 
could be discharged by inexperienced 
troop labor under combat conditions. Be- 
lieving that the British estimate of four 
dead-weight tons per hour per hatch was 
too conservative, he used the figure often 
dead-weight tons, which later proved to 
be close to the average. In order to attain 
the maximum discharge, the Americans 
contemplated the extensive use of mechan- 
ical cargo-handling equipment such as 
fork-lift trucks and crawler cranes. The 
Transportation Corps procured as much of 
this equipment as possible from the United 
Kingdom and then got the remainder 
directly from the United States.' ' 

As developed by late September 1942, 
Torch plans were based on the assump- 
tion that 73 berths would be available 
immediately at the captured Allied ports, 
and that additional ports with anchorage 
for 20 vessels would be taken within two 



weeks. Of these 93 berths, 56 were located 
at the western and central ports, princi- 
pally Casablanca and Oran, which would 
be seized and operated by the Americans. 
A U.S. port headquarters was to be as- 
signed to each of the two major port areas, 
to arrive shortly after the initial landings. 
The eastern ports, including Algiers, Phil- 
ippeville, and Bone, were to be operated 
by the British." 

Maj. (later Col.) Sidney H. Bingham 
was chiefly responsible for planning the 
U.S. Army railway operations in North 
Africa. Considerable enemy destruction 
was anticipated, but luckily did not mate- 
rialize. Only one railway line ran from 
Casablanca via Oran to Tunisia. Early in 
October 1942, General Eisenhower esti- 
mated that he would require at the outset 
approximately 50 locomotives, 600 cov- 
ered cars, 400 open railway cars, and 50 
war flats, and that ultimately 250 locomo- 
tives and 2,700 covered and 1,800 open 
cars would be needed. Further communi- 
cation resulted in an agreement that the 
Western and Center Task Forces would 
call for the required railway equipment 
after a preliminary survey in the field.' ' 

Since the enemy might have rendered 
the railways inoperative, the Transporta- 
tion Corps planners had to be prepared to 
rely on port clearance by truck, if neces- 
sary. Aerial photographs and peacetime 
maps were examined to determine the 



'- Leighton and Coaklry, op. cil . , pp. 468-70, 477- 
78. Sec Chapters XVI and XVII for a detailed treat- 
ment of the role of logi.stics. including transportation, 
in the planning, mounting, and support of the North 
African campaign. 

'-^ See Lecture (n.d.) at Atlantic Coast TC Officers 
Tng School, Ft. Slocum, by Lt Col C. F. Sharp, Pre- 
paring for an Operation of a Port of Debarkation in a 
Combat Zone, pp. 1-3, OCT HB Ft. Slocum Lectures. 

" Leighton and Coakley, op. ciL. p. 468; OCT HB 
Monograph 9, pp. 44, 142. 

" OCT HB Monograph 9, pp. 44-46. 



142 



THE TRANSPORTATION CORPS 



road network and the railway system lead- 
ing from each port area, as well as the 
space within the dock area for maneuver- 
ing trucks. Detailed highway transporta- 
tion reports were worked out by two high- 
way traffic experts, Capt. (later Lt. Col.) 
Franklin M. Kreml and Capt. George W. 
Barton. All pertinent logistical factors 
were considered, even to the time required 
for one man to load a standard 2y2-ton 
truck with rations. Road and dump signs 
were prepared and procedures were devel- 
oped for over-the-road control of highway 
movements. According to Kreml, it was 
estimated that from D Day to D plus 30 a 
total of 5, 1 00 tons per day could be moved 
by truck out of Oran, a target figure only 
about 100 tons per day below the actual 
achievement for this period.^'' 

The Case of the Missing Supplies 

The supply requirements of the U.S. 
forces in North Africa were of deep con- 
cern to the Transportation Corps planners, 
both in London and in Washington, since 
the planners had to know approximately 
what would have to be moved to a given 
port by a given date and what ships were 
available. As the invasion drew near, the 
supply picture was characterized by un- 
certainty and confusion that on occasion 
bordered on chaos. On 21 August 1942 
General Somervell's chief of staff called 
attention to the disturbing lack of firm 
data on supply and shipping requirements. 
Early in September the situation became 
even more alarming when General Eisen- 
hower disclosed that a large part of the 
supplies and equipment presumed to be 
in the United Kingdom and available for 
Torch could not be located in time to 
meet the deadline and therefore would 
have to be replaced from the United 
States. ^^ 



The reasons for this situation could be 
found on both sides of the Atlantic. In the 
summer of 1942 the Americans were still 
converting newly acquired warehouses in 
the British Isles into U.S. Army depots. 
The depots generally had insufficient and 
inexperienced personnel. Storage had 
been hasty, primarily with a view to re- 
moving cargo as quickly as possible from 
the port areas in order to prevent conges- 
tion. Adequate inventories were not yet 
complete. Frequently, poor packing, 
marking, and documentation of shipments 
from the zone of interior had plagued the 
theater. Much equipment had arrived 
broken or damaged, and many items were 
not properly identified on the shipping 
containers or in the cargo manifests. All 
these shortcomings had been reported to 
Washington and vigorously denounced by 
the theater chief of transportation. With 
respect to the current crisis, he stated that 
the depot situation in the United King- 
dom was bad, and that the stocks were 
unbalanced. Of one thing he was certain — 
the Transportation Corps had delivered 
the goods to the supply services, even 
though the latter did not know what was 
in their depots. ^^ 

A transatlantic exchange of cables ulti- 
mately revealed that some of the missing 
items had been located, others were on the 
way from the United States, and still 
others were not absolutely essential. Nev- 



^'^ See Sharp lecture cited n. 13, p. 4. Cf. Lecture at 
Trans School, Ft. Eustis, by Lt Col Franklin M. 
Kreml. 29 Oct 42, pp. 3-5, OCT HB NATOUSA Hy 
Rpts. 

' ' Memo, CofS SOS WD for CofS USA, 2 1 Aug 42, 
sub: Need for Early Definition of Forces . . . , Hq 
CofS WDGS (2). 1942 (Somervell File). Cf. OCT HB 
Monograph 9, pp. 30-31. 

"" See Study, Maj William C. Frierson, Prepara- 
tions for Torch, pp. 27-28, OCMH Files; Ltrs, Ross 
to Gross, 10 and 21 Sep, 14 Oct 42, OCT HB Gross 
ETO— Gen Ross. Cf. Ruppenthal, op. at., pp. 87-99. 



NORTH AFRICA 



143 



ertheless, a total of approximately 260,000 
measurement tons of U.S. supplies and 
equipment needed in the United King- 
dom to meet early (D plus 5) Torch re- 
quirements was lacking and had to be 
procured from American and British 
sources. For example, even though ample 
ammunition should have been sent to the 
theater, 1 1,000,000 rounds of ammunition 
had to be borrowed from the British. The 
immediate need was met, but only by 
frantic effort and at a heavy cost in addi- 
tional shipping. Initially, sixteen cargo 
vessels were requested to move the 1 76,000 
measurement tons of special high-priority 
items that had to be in the United King- 
dom by 20 October 1942. The remaining 
84,000 measurement tons were to be for- 
warded in subsequent shipments. Changes 
made by theater headquarters in London 
and the failure of certain items to arrive in 
time for loading resulted in modification 
of the original shipping plan, but the fact 
remained that much valuable cargo space 
had been expended, both for the materiel 
poured into Britain that could not be lo- 
cated and for the necessary replacements 
of that materiel.'' 

Last-minute requests from the theater 
became so frequent and vexing as to cause 
Washington to notify the theater that no 
further changes would be made in the 
first supporting convoy from the United 
States unless dictated by "urgent strategic 
reasons." Efforts were also made to get the 
theater to provide early advance informa- 
tion on its requirements for subsequent 
convoys and to set a time limit for un- 
avoidable changes. Because of the appar- 
ent absence of adequate data about in- 
coming cargo and the sheer inability of 
supply service personnel to identify items 
listed on the cargo manifests, the theater 
frequently and on occasion knowingly du- 



plicated its requests. This practice, waste- 
ful both of supplies and shipping, came to 
a head in mid-October 1942, when a de- 
mand for additional ordnance material led 
to a tart observation by General Somervell 
that all items had been shipped at least 
twice and most items three times. In 
Washington this period of confusion and 
duplication left an impression not readily 
forgotten.-'" 

Meanwhile, the theater had been work- 
ing on a complete plan for the support of 
Torch. The plan, forwarded to the War 
Department late in October 1942, pro- 
vided that initially each task force was to 
be supplied by the base from which it was 
launched. The Western Task Force ( WTF) 
was to have direct supply from the United 
States from the beginning. The Center 
Task Force (CTF) and the predominantly 
British Eastern Task Force (ETF) were to 
be supplied from the United Kingdom, 
with the latter drawing its supplies 
through British channels. Both the WTF 
and the CTF were to submit their requisi- 
tions to the theater SOS in London for 
screening and subsequent forwarding to 
Washington. Also, substantial reserves of 
supplies and ammunition were to be built 
up rapidly in North Africa and in the 
United Kingdom. 

The plan was opposed by the SOS in 
Washington, principally on the grounds 
that the establishment of a separate 
Torch reserve in the United Kingdom 
would unduly complicate supply proce- 
dures and necessitate double handling, 
and that more direct and expeditious sup- 



' ' Memo, Gross for Somervell, 2 Oct 42, sub: Cargo 
Ships for Special Opn, and Memo, ACofS for Opns 
SOS for CofT SOS WD, Nov 42, sub: Necessity for 
Info of Flow of Sup, OCT HB Meyer Staybacks. 

-'" OCT HB Monograph 9, pp. 33-34. For addi- 
tional details on the efforts to meet the supply crisis 
see Leighton and Coakley, op. cit., pp. 429-35. 



144 



THE TRANSPORTATION CORPS 



port would be forthcoming if both the 
CTF and the WTF requisitioned directly 
on the New York Port of Embarkation. 
After some controversy a compromise was 
reached in early December 1942, to be 
observed pending the transfer to the 
United States of the entire responsibility 
for the direct supply of the U.S. forces in 
North Africa. The arrangement provided 
for a far smaller supply reserve in the 
United Kingdom than contemplated 
earlier. As before, the WTF would be 
supplied from the New York port, but 
would now requisition directly on it. The 
CTF would be supplied as far as practica- 
ble by convoys from the United States, 
supplemented by shipments from the 
small U.K. supply reserve. This force 
would requisition on London, where Euro- 
pean theater headquarters would deter- 
mine what it could provide, and then 
requisition the remainder from the New 
York port. The U.S. elements of the ETF 
were to be supplied from American or, if 
required, British stocks in the United 
Kingdom. This dual supply line remained 
in effect until February 1943, when out- 
loadings from the United Kingdom for 
the support of American forces in North 
Africa were substantially completed. '' 

Mounting the Task Forces in Britain 

The convoys for the North African in- 
vasion had to bring troops and cargo from 
widely separated areas, necessitating care- 
ful scheduling to insure arrival at the de- 
sired time and place.-- As previously 
indicated, within the United Kingdom 
the brunt of the work involved in the con- 
trol of movements of troops and materiel 
for Torch was performed by the British. '' 
A small American liaison group, later 
known as the Export Movement Division, 
represented the theater chief of transpor- 



tation at the British War Office, where 
priorities were set and movement orders 
were prepared. General Ross tried to have 
the movement orders issued in ample time 
to assure complete preparation of the 
units, and on the whole he was able to 
accomplish this aim. A few Ground Forces 
and Air Forces unit commanders balked 
at moving until compliance was directed 
by General Eisenhower, but otherwise 
the outbound troop traffic proceeded 
smoothly. 

Within the United Kingdom, all load- 
ing plans for outbound cargo were made 
in London and each depot was given de- 
tailed shipping instructions on the items 
that it was to furnish. In the initial con- 
voys from the United Kingdom all the 
cargo ships were loaded with assorted sup- 
plies so as to minimize the loss in the event 
of sinkings. Last-minute changes affecting 
both troops and cargo were frequent and 
bothersome. The principal difficulty for 
the Transportation Corps arose from poor 
co-ordination between the ports and de- 
pots on supply shipments. The outloading 
was accomplished under pressure and a 
heavy cloak of secrecy. According to Ross, 
with so much "hush-hush" prevailing 
confusion at times was to be expected.-^ 



-' OCT HB Monograph 9, pp. 36-40; Lcighton 
and Coakley, op. cit., pp. 466-68, 479. 

-"-' Convoys were designated by symbols, among 
which "F" meant fast, "S" slow. The "UG" convoys 
sailed from the United States and the "KM" convoys 
from the United Kingdom. All convoys were num- 
bered in sequence: UGF-2, KMS-1, KMF-3, etc. For 
return voyages the letters were reversed to read 
GUF-1, MKS-1, etc. See Memo, ACofS for Opns 
SOS for TQMG et al., 29 Oct 42, sub: Maint of U.S. 
Army Forces in Special Opn, OCT HB Overseas 
Opns Gp Torch 28 Sep- 14 Nov 42. 

- ' See above, p. 80. 

-^ Hist Rpt, Story of Transportation in the United 
Kingdom, pp. 147-55, OCT HB ETO; Ltrs, Ross to 
Ciross, 10 and 19 Sep, 18 Oct 42, OCT HB Gross 
i:rO — Gen Ross; Ltr, Brig Gen (Ret.) Charles O. 
Thrasher to Larson, 21 Apr 50, OCT HB ETO In- 
(|uirics. See also below, p. 160. 



NORTH AFRICA 



145 



After brief amphibious training, in 
mid-October 1942 the two assault forces 
embarked from the Glasgow and Liver- 
pool port areas on combat-loaded vessels, 
which were then assembled in the Firth of 
Clyde to take part in a final rehearsal for 
the invasion. The principal U.S. Army 
components in the expedition were ele- 
ments of the 1st and 34th Infantry Divi- 
sions and the 1st Armored Division, 
together with several groups from the 
Eighth Air Force. The first convoys from 
the United Kingdom were loaded and 
dispatched entirely under British super- 
vision, but with some assistance by Trans- 
portation Corps personnel. On 26 October 
1942 both task forces set sail for North 
Africa, and they arrived at Oran and 
Algiers on 8 November. Aboard the con- 
voys KMF-1 and KMS-1 were 46,920 
American troops and 26,690 British 
troops, together with a total of 54,827 
long tons of U.S. and British cargo.- ' 

The United States Prepares 
for the Invasion 

While the Americans and British in the 
United Kingdom made ready for their 
role in Torch, the operation had become 
a prime concern of the War and Navy De- 
partments and the Joint and Combined 
Chiefs of Staff' in Washington."" Since the 
United States was not only to mount and 
support roughly one third of the attacking 
force, but was also to be increasingly 
relied upon to furnish the supplies, equip- 
ment, and ships for the forces to be dis- 
patched from the British Isles, Washing- 
ton became almost as important a center 
tor plans and operations as Eisenhower's 
headquarters in London. In the United 
States the Transportation Corps helped to 
get the vessels needed for the invasion. The 
Transportation Corps Planning Division 



prepared numerous studies, varying in 
detail with the changing tactical objec- 
tives, on North African port, rail, and 
highway capacities. The Chief of Trans- 
portation assigned representatives to the 
Western Task Force G-4 and to the Torch 
committee, as well as transportation 
officers and units for transportation oper- 
ations in North Africa. The ports of em- 
barkation at New York and Hampton 
Roads assisted in mounting the assault 
convoy of the Western Task Force and 
gave subsequent support to the U.S. Army 
in North Africa. 

One of the first tasks was to secure 
enough American combat loaders to 
move the assault forces, since the British 
had the lift for only four regimental com- 
bat teams. To fill this need twelve small 
vessels were hastily converted (six by the 
Army and six by the Navy) into modified 
combat loaders. The conversion entailed 
installing landing-boat davits, increasing 
the capacity of the booms, providing more 
troop space, adding armament, and ar- 
ranging quarters for the Navy crew that 
was to operate the vessel. The twelve ships 
were obtained principally at the expense 
of the Bolero program. So limited was 
the time that several were still in the yards 
when the loading began at Hampton 
Roads.-' 



-■ Hist rpt cited n. 24, pp. 150-54; ASF MPR Sec. 
3. 31 May 43. pp. 85-86. Cf. Brig. Gen. William 
Francis Heavey, Down Ramp! The Story of the Army Am- 
phibian Engineers, pp. 20-21, 30; and Howe, Opera- 
tions in Northwest Africa. Ch. HI. 

-'' E.xcept as otherwise indicated, this section is 
based upon Hist Rpt. HRPE, I, 12-15, OCT HB: and 
OCT HB Monograph 9. pp. 53-78. For the support- 
ing Transportation Corps documents, see Torch. 15 
Jul 42-6 Mar 43 (3 folders), OCT HB Overseas Opns 
Gp; and North Africa ( 1 folder). OCT HB Wylic. 

-' Memo, Dir Opns OCT for Chief Water Div. 4 
Aug 42, sub: Conversion of Vessels to Modified Com- 
bat Loaders, and Tabs 6 and 96, OCT HB Meyer 
Staxbacks. 



146 



THE TRANSPORTATION CORPS 



Apart from working on the broader 
problems of determining the over-all ship- 
ping and supply requirements for Torch 
and the number of service troops needed 
to support an estimated total invasion 
force of approximately 240,000 men, the 
planners in the United States were con- 
fronted with the immediate and pressing 
task of arranging for the mounting of the 
assault convoy of the Western Task Force. 
Entirely American, the initial contingent 
of 33,737 men was scheduled to sail under 
U.S. naval escort from Hampton Roads 
to French Morocco in October 1942. 
Under the command of Maj. Gen. (later 
Lt. Gen.) George S. Patton, Jr., the 
Western Task Force was drawn chiefly 
from the 3d and 9th Infantry Divisions 
and the 2d Armored Division. For the op- 
eration General Patton's men were organ- 
ized into three subtask forces. The "Z" 
subtask force, commanded by Brig. Gen. 
(later Maj. Gen.) Lucian K. Truscott, Jr., 
was assigned to the capture of Mehdia, 
near Port-Lyautey, and the adjacent air- 
field. Under the command of Maj. Gen. 
Jonathan W. Anderson, the "Y" subtask 
force, the largest of the three, was to seize 
Fedala preliminary to the taking of Casa- 
blanca. The "X" subtask force, under 
Maj. Gen. Ernest N. Harmon, was to oc- 
cupy the small coastal port of Safi, south- 
west of Casablanca. 

Early in August General Patton's staff" 
began to assemble in Washington to deter- 
mine the requirements in ships, troops, 
and materiel for the Western Task Force. 
Although the projected size of the force 
remained fairly stable, the troop list fluc- 
tuated considerably, as combat units 
replaced service units and air force troops 
were substituted for ground force troops 
in the assault convoy. Corresponding 
changes had to be made in the cargo. 



The original plan called for more organic 
equipment, tanks, ammunition, and sup- 
plies than the available ships would hold. 
This problem was attacked by reducing 
the amount of armor to be included and 
by obtaining the seatrain New Jersey (later 
redesignated the USS Lakehurst) to move 
the tanks that could not be loaded in the 
other vessels. In addition, a cut of 50 per- 
cent was made in the initial organiza- 
tional equipment, and the level of supply 
was reduced to 10 units of fire and to 45 
days for rations. The Transportation 
Corps Planning Division assisted Patton's 
staflT throughout th's period, and one 
transportation officer, Maj. (later Lt. Col.) 
Charles F. Tank, was detailed for full-time 
duty with the Western Task Force, which 
he eventually accompanied to North 
Africa.-^ 

Most of the loading of the assault con- 
voy took place at the newly activated 
Hampton Roads Port of Embarkation, 
under the command of Brig. Gen. John R. 
Kilpatrick. The 28 combat-loaded vessels 
were to be readied in two groups or flights, 
the one of 13 vessels for the smaller "X" 
and "Z" subtask forces and the other of 
15 ships for the larger "Y" subtask force."'' 
Each subtask force commander was made 
responsible for embarking his own con- 
tingent. However, the loading plan for 
each ship was prepared by a transport 



-'' Interv, H. H. Dunham with Col Tank, 14 Nov 
44; Memo, Lt Col Richard L. Jewett, 20 Jul 43, sub: 
Role of Ping Div TC in WTF Ping. Both in OCT HB 
North Africa Torch Ping. 

-■' The loading, although under Army and Navy di- 
rection, was performed almost entirely by civilian 
stevedores working at four different sets of piers in the 
Newport News and Norfolk areas. See Ltr, Gen 
Kilpatrick to Rear Adm Trevor W. Leutze, 30 Sep 
42, sub: Detailed Arrangements for Handling and 
Loading of Ships for Task Force A, and Memo, Maj 
Tank for Gen Gross, 4 Oct 42, OCT HB Wylie North 
Africa. 



NORTH AFRICA 



147 



quartermaster, whose principal purpose 
was to make available for immediate dis- 
charge the combat vehicles, ammunition, 
and supplies required by the units aboard 
that particular vessel. Ammunition and 
rations in prescribed amounts were placed 
in each vehicle, additional amounts were 
carried by each soldier, and the remainder 
was stowed in easily accessible spaces on 
the transport. The seatrain New Jersey was 
loaded at New York to ease the strain on 
the Hampton Roads Port of Embarka- 
tion, and six vessels were partially loaded 
by the Navy at New York and sent to 
Hampton Roads. 

An elaborate system had been devised 
by the War Department for marking and 
forwarding the cargo for each ship, but 
changes in the assignment of troops, 
weapons, and vehicles from one vessel to 
another soon brought confusion. Both 
ammunition and rations should have been 
sent to the port in bulk, rather than in in- 
dividual shipments, and then distributed 
to the task force as required. Engineer, 
signal, medical, chemical warfare, and 
ordnance supplies (other than ammuni- 
tion) were assembled in a single ware- 
house at Newport News, where cube and 
weight were readily calculated for use in 
planning stowage and where delivery 
could be made to each ship as the need 
arose. '" 

The loading operations at Hampton 
Roads were beset with difficulties. Freight 
poured into the port, often without ade- 
quate identification. Separated by the 
bay, the piers at Newport News and Nor- 
folk were served by different railways, and 
shipments consigned to "Hampton 
Roads" sometimes went to the wrong ter- 
minal, necessitating troublesome tracing 
and transshipment. Despite excellent co- 
operation, both the Army and the Navy 



were hampered by inexperienced person- 
nel and drastic time limitations. General 
Patton's staff was never assembled in one 
spot until the very last moment, a factor 
hindering effective planning. 

Moreover, the Transportation Corps 
installations that could have helped were 
all new and undeveloped. The Richmond 
Holding and Reconsignment Point was 
not yet prepared to give satisfactory serv- 
ice. The port of embarkation at Hampton 
Roads had been established only recently, 
and since its staging area was not com- 
pleted General Patton's three divisions 
had to be staged at nearby camps in Vir- 
ginia and North Carolina. Because the 
landings in North Africa might have to be 
made through surf and over the beaches, 
all combat vehicles had to be water- 
proofed and processed to prevent rust and 
corrosion, and facilities for this purpose 
had to be improvised. 

At the insistence of the Army and the 
Navy and to provide firsthand knowledge 
of loading and unloading, early in Octo- 
ber a practice run of the "Y" contingent 
was arranged, which included a landing 
exercise at Solomons Island in the Chesa- 
peake Bay and the discharge of troops and 
vehicles at the port of Baltimore." By 
mid-October the bulk of the cargo had 
been stowed on the ships of the "X" and 
"Z" subtask forces. A considerable 
amount of ammunition that arrived at the 
last moment had to be lashed to the decks. 
Beginning on 22 October the "Y" force 
loaded the last of its cargo. 



^" Maj. William Reginald Wheeler (ed.), The Road 
to Victory, A History of Hampton Roads Port of Embarka- 
tion in World War II (Newport News, Va. [New 
Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press], 1946). I, 66-68. 

" Troops of the "Z" force under General Truscott 
later took part in a similar brief rehearsal at Solomons 
Island. 



148 



THE TRANSPORTATION CORPS 



There were some disconcerting elev- 
enth-hour developments. The six trans- 
ports that had been partially loaded at 
New York had to be unloaded and then 
reloaded to fit final loading plans of the 
transport quartermasters. The transport 
Lee developed engine trouble, and her 
troops and cargo had to be shifted to the 
Calvert, a hurried task accomplished in 
only thirty-five hours. The Contessa, a 
small light-draft boat that had at one time 
been a banana boat of Honduran registry, 
was chartered at the last minute to carry 
aviation gasoline and bombs up the wind- 
ing, shallow Sebou River to a strategic 
airfield at Port-Lyautey. The Contessa 
reached Norfolk too late to sail with the 
assault convoy since emergency repairs 
had to be made, and several vacancies in 
her crew had to be filled by volunteers 
from seamen jailed at Norfolk for minor 
offenses. '- 

While the Contessa was being readied, 
the final topping off" of cargo took place for 
the main convoy. On 23 October the last 
of the troops embarked. By dawn of the 
following day the ships (Convoy UGF-1) 
bearing the Western Task Force took to 
the open sea, escorted by U.S. naval craft, 
all under the command of Rear Adm. 
Henry Kent Hewitt. Aboard were 33,843 
U.S. troops and 93,102 measurement tons 
of U.S. Army cargo." 

Organization of Transportation 
in North Africa 

The commanders of the three task 
forces that converged upon French North 
Africa on 8 November 1942 were respon- 
sible for the control of miUtary transpor- 
tation within their respective areas during 
the first phase. The Western and Center 
Task Forces were assigned SOS staffs, in- 



cluding transportation personnel, which 
arrived in the assault and early support 
convoys and served as the advance 
echelons of base sections that were to as- 
sume direction of supply and transporta- 
tion activities. Shortly after the landings, 
the Mediterranean Base Section was offi- 
cially activated at Oran under Brig. Gen. 
(later Maj. Gen.) Thomas B. Larkin, and 
a similar headquarters, the Atlantic Base 
Section, was set up at Casablanca under 
Brig. Gen. Arthur R. Wilson. The trans- 
portation organizations of the two base 
sections were headed, respectively, by 
Colonel Stewart and Col. Thomas H. 
Stanley. No provision was made for an 
American logistical organization in the 
Eastern Task Force's area, where supply 
and transportation activities were con- 
trolled by the British. At the end of 1942 
the two base sections were released from 
the control of the task forces and placed 
under the Allied Force Headquarters 
(AFHQ), which had been transferred 
from Gibraltar and the United Kingdom 
to Algiers." 

Meanwhile, a combined transportation 
organization had begun operating in 
AFHQ. Planning for such an organiza- 
tion had begun in London in August 
1942, when a G-4 section (Supply and 
Evacuation) was established under Col. 



^- In the early morning hours of 27 October 1942, 
the Contessa, unescorted, set forth on a hazardous dash 
across the Atlantic. Speedy ( 16 knots), she managed to 
overtake the task force and to accomplish her mission. 
See Wheeler, op. at.. Vol. I, Ch. VIII. 

" See Rev. Draft, Maj William C. Frierson, Load- 
ing and Debarking Task Force A, North African Ex- 
pedition, November 1942, with comments by Gen 
Kiljjatrick, 1 2 May 44, OCT HB North Africa Torch 
IMng; ASF MPR, Sec. 3, 31 May 43, pp. 85-86. Cf 
Leigiilon and Coakley, oj). cil., pj). 439-4.5. 

'■■' OCT HB Monograph 9, pp. 142-46, 177; Hist of 
AFIIQ. Pi. I, pp. 98 99, Pt. II, December 1942- 
December 1943, pp. 167-69. 



NORTH AFRICA 



149 



(later Brig. Gen.) Archelaus L. Hamblen 
(American). This office differed from the 
normal U.S. Army G-4 section in that it 
did not include transportation functions, 
which were placed in a separate Move- 
ments and Transportation Section, headed 
by Col. (later Brigadier) A. T. de Rhe 
Philipe (British), the senior Allied trans- 
portation officer on the staff. '' This organ- 
ization was to provide the framework for 
co-operating American and British trans- 
portation staffs. As outlined in AFHQ 
movement and transportation instruc- 
tions, issued by General Eisenhower on 20 
October 1942 as a guide to the task forces, 
the U.S. Army Transportation Corps staff 
and the British Q (Movements) staff were 
in principle to form a combined Move- 
ments and Transportation organization. '"' 
Both staffs were to be individually respon- 
sible through their own normal channels 
of command to the Chief Administrative 
Officer, AFHQ, for the efficient employ- 
ment of their respective services. Together, 
they were to be responsible for policy and 
for allocation of facilities to the various 
operating areas in accordance with the re- 
quirements of the theater commander. At 
the outset certain common measures were 
enjoined, such as standard documentation 
for rail shipments and the pooling of 
available transportation facilities as soon 
as contact was established between the 
task forces. The instructions also provided 
for the establishment of a North African 
Shipping Board (NASBO). Headed by a 
civilian BMWT official, and representing 
both American and British interests, 
NASBO was to serve as a co-ordinating 
agency for all shipping matters arising in 
the Torch area.^' 

No U.S. Army officer was selected to 
head the American side of the AFHQ 
transportation organization before the in- 



vasion, in large part because of uncer- 
tainty regarding the status of Colonel 
Ross. At various times during the prein- 
vasion period it appeared that he would 
be assigned to either Larkin or Wilson, or 
that he would go with Hamblen and serve 
in the transportation section at AFHQ. 
General Lee desired to retain Ross in the 
European theater, and Ross himself con- 
sidered the possible assignments in North 
Africa as demotions. Finally, in mid- 
October Ross was notified that he would 
go with General Larkin, who wanted him 
to set up the port operation at Oran. 
Although his orders placed him on tem- 
porary duty with the Center Task Force 
and called for his return to the United 
Kingdom by the end of the year, he feared 
he might well be retained and assigned to 
some subordinate transportation job at 
AFHQ.^^ 

Arriving at Oran with the D-plus-3 
convoy, Ross remained at that port until 
about 20 November 1942 when, as top- 
ranking Transportation Corps officer, he 
moved to Algiers to set up the American 



■' Hist of AFHQ.. Pt. I, pp. 51, 54-56. 

'■'• See Adm Memo 13 and Annex 2, AFHQ, 20 Oct 
42, Mvmts and Trans Instructions, in Hist Red, OCT 
AFHQ NATOUSA. activation to 3 1 Oct 43, Tab A, 
OCT HB North Africa. Cf Draft of Memo, Maj Gen 
H. M. Gale, CAO AFHQ to CG WTF, 15 Oct 42, 
OCT HB Overseas Opns Gp, Torch, 28 Sep- 14 Nov 
42. 

'" NASBO, later (16 November 1943) designated 
Mediterranean Shipping Board, functioned as a joint 
advisory committee until August 1945. Col. Creswell 
G. Blakeney (ed.), Logistical History of NATOUSA- 
MTOUSA: 11 August 1942 to 30 November 1945 (Naples: 
Via Ponti Rossi, 1946), pp. 144-46; Hist of AFHQ. Pt. 
I, pp. 87-89. Neither Gross nor Ross favored the crea- 
tion of NASBO. the former objecting to its civilian 
control and wide powers and the latter deeming it un- 
essential and of dubious merit. See Rad, London to 
AGWAR, 8 Oct 42, CM-IN 3097, and Draft of TC 
Reply, Marshall to Eisenhower, 9 Oct 42, OCT HB 
Gross ETO — Gen Ross. 

•" Ltrs, Ross to Gross, 10, 17 Sep, and 8, 14, and 26 
Oct 42, OCT HB Gross ETO— Gen Ross. 



150 



THE TRANSPORTATION CORPS 



side of the transportation organization at 
AFHQ. Ross dutifully accepted this last 
assignment, but with grave misgivings. 
With a meager staff, he had to battle to 
operate independently of the British and 
to maintain the separate identity of the 
American transportation organization 
under a compromise AFHQ arrange- 
ment. On 1 January 1943, when the Of- 
fice of the Chief of Transportation, AFHQ, 
had begun to shape up, Ross had only five 
officers. They consisted of a deputy chief 
of transportation (Lt. Col. Thomas 
Fuller), an executive officer (Maj. Francis 
J. Murdoch, Jr.), a Water Section (Colonel 
Sharp and Maj. John T Danaher), and a 
Rail Section (Major Zinnecker), together 
with an Administrative and Statistical 
Section staffed by four enlisted men. 
Three other sections (Operational Plan- 
ning, Air, and Highway) were contem- 
plated but not yet staffed.-*" 

Colonel Ross wrestled with these prob- 
lems until late January 1943, when he left 
for Washington before returning to his 
post as chief of transportation for the 
European theater. He was succeeded tem- 
porarily by his deputy, and on 13 Febru- 
ary 1943 Colonel Stewart became chief of 
transportation in North Africa. Stewart 
was to hold this post for more than two 
years, ultimately attaining the rank of 
brigadier general. His office was located 
in the St. George Hotel in Algiers in the 
same room with his British counterpart. 
Brigadier de Rhe Philipe. 

Following activation on 4 February 
1943 of the North African Theater of Op- 
erations, U.S. Army (NATOUSA), Colo- 
nel Stewart, as the senior Transportation 
Corps stafTofficer, AFHQ was designated 
the chief of a corresponding transporta- 
tion section of the headquarters staff, 
NATOUSA. This unusual arrangement 



was the consequence of the shortage of 
personnel and office space which made it 
necessary to use U.S. staff officers at Al- 
giers in a dual capacity, sometimes repre- 
senting the U.S. Army theater and 
sometimes the international AFHQ. 
Stewart, like the others, had to be mindful 
of the theater G-4's admonition to be 
aware in each action of what hat he was 
wearing. 

As U.S. chief of transportation in the 
theater, Stewart served as adviser to the 
newly appointed Commanding General, 
Communications Zone (U.S.), and the 
AFHQG-4, and represented U.S. inter- 
ests in discussions and decisions affecting 
transportation.^" He was responsible to 
the Communications Zone commander 
for the efficient operation of the Transpor- 
tation Corps, for co-ordination with Brit- 
ish Q Movements in the planning and 
execution of movements, and for the prep- 
aration of transportation policies and 
directives for issuance to the base sections. 
Operating under the policy that all pos- 
sible command, administrative, and op- 
erational functions were decentralized to 
the base section commanders, Stewart 
co-ordinated matters involving more than 



" Hist Red, OCT AFHQ NATOUSA, activation 
to 31 Oct 43, Sees. I-II, and Tab H, OCT HB North 
Africa; Ltrs,.Ross to Gross, 8, 14 Oct, 31 Dec 42, 29 
Jan 43, OCT HB Gross— ETO. 

Fuller was later promoted to a colonel, and Mur- 
doch later became a lieutenant colonel. 

'"On 9 February 1943, Brig. Gen. Everett S. 
Hughes, Deputy Commander, NATOUSA, was addi- 
tionally appointed Commanding General, Communi- 
cations Zone (U.S.). The zone included the area west 
of a north-south line drawn about midway between 
Oran and Algiers. Hughes was to assume all possible 
U.S. administrative and supply duties then being per- 
formed by AFHQ, develop supply plans for U.S. 
forces in future operations, and in co-operation with 
the AFHQ chief administrative officer insure co- 
ordination of U.S. and British operations. Hist of 
AFHQ Pt. II, pp. 194-96; Logistical History of 
NA TO USA-MTO USA ,pp.22-23. 



NORTH AFRICA 



151 



one base section and/or British, and/or 
French transportation. He allocated 
transportation troops and equipment to 
the base sections, and he exercised such 
over-all control as was required to insure 
efficient operation of the Transportation 
Corps throughout the theater. " 

Although the preinvasion planning had 
called for the eventual establishment of 
an SOS headquarters to co-ordinate the 
efforts of the base sections, such an organ- 
ization did not come into being until after 
the activation of NATOUSA. Headquar- 
ters, SOS, NATOUSA, was set up at 
Oran in mid-February 1943, under Gen- 
eral Larkin, to direct U.S. supply activ- 
ities in the theater. The SOS was given 
control of functions relating to supply and 
administration in the base sections, but 
command of the sections was retained by 
theater headquarters. Within the SOS a 
Transportation Section was created, 
headed by Major McKenzie, who func- 
tioned primarily in an advisory, planning, 
and liaison capacity on transportation 
matters.'" In time, the Transportation 
Section's functions were expanded, and 
ultimately it was assigned responsibility 
for the staff supervision of all transporta- 
tion facilities in the U.S. communications 
zone, but these changes were not made 
until after the close of the North African 
campaign." In the meantime. Colonel 
Stewart continued to perform his co- 
ordinating and supervisory functions on 
the Allied and theater headquarters levels 
and retained authority to deal directly 
with both SOS and base section transpor- 
tation officers on operational matters. " 

Shortly after the establishment of the 
SOS, the base section structure was 
rounded out by the activation of a new 
Eastern Base Section (EBS), under the 
command of Col. (later Brig. Gen.) 



Arthur W. Pence, with Lt. Col. Edward 
T Barrett as the transportation officer. 
The EBS headquarters was at first located 
at Constantine. The primary purpose of 
this base section was to strengthen the 
long supply line to the U.S. II Corps, 
which was soon to join in the final Allied 
offensive in North Africa.^' 

As Chief of Transportation, NATO- 
USA, serving in a dual capacity at 
AFHQ^ Colonel Stewart had his hands 
full in the critical spring days of 1943 
when the Axis power was being broken in 
North Africa. With limited personnel he 
had to supervise rapidly expanding trans- 
portation activity in the wake of the ad- 
vancing Allied forces. To the highly im- 
portant Water Section, which was re- 
sponsible for the supervision of shipping 
and port operations, were added Rail, 
Air, Operational Planning, and Highway 
Sections."' In addition, Stewart had to 
contrive satisfactory working arrange- 



" Hist Red, OCT AFHQ NATOUSA, activation 
to 31 Oct 43, Sec. II and Tab F. OCT HB North 
Africa. 

'- Major McKenzie was succeeded in May 1943 
by Col. John R. Noyes. 

^' For a treatment of organizational developments 
after the end of hostilities in North Africa, see below, 
pp. 184-88. 

'' Condensed Red, Trans Sec SOS NATOUSA, ac- 
tivation through Sep 44, OCT HB North Africa SOS 
Hq; Hist Red, OCT AFHQ NATOUSA, activation 
to 31 Oct 43, Tabs F and K, OCT HB North Africa; 
Hist of AFHQ, Pt. II, pp. 196-202. 

*■' For the II Corps alone, more than 100,000 men 
and their equipment had to be moved across difficult 
country to take part in the closing drive. See Historical 
Division, U.S. War Department, To Bizerte With the 
II Corps: 23 April 1943-13 May 1943, AMERICAN 
FORCES IN ACTION SERIES (Washington, 1943); 
and Hist Red, Trans See EBS, 22 Feb-30 Apr 43, pp. 
5-6, 28-29, OCT HB North Africa. 

^'' See below for further details on the work of the 
Water, Rail, and Highway Sections. The Air Section 
functioned primarily as a liaison group to arrange air 
transport within the theater. The Operational Plan- 
ning Section was set up chiefly to plan for the attack 
on Sicily. See OCT HB Monograph 9, pp. 131-40. 



152 



THE TRANSPORTATION CORPS 



merits with his British and French col- 
leagues, whose methods and procedures 
frequently differed from those of the 
Americans. 

The multiplicity of transportation or- 
ganizations within the theater, although 
confusing, did not prove a serious defect 
because the necessary co-ordination was 
achieved by having a single individual 
(Colonel Stewart) serve both as senior 
American transportation officer on the 
AFHQstaff and the U.S. theater chief of 
transportation. In view of the dual rela- 
tionship between AFHQand NATOUSA, 
the division of U.S. communications zone 
functions between NATOUSA and SOS 
NATOUSA, and the relative autonomy of 
the Military Railway Service, Stewart 
faced a situation that was not in accord 
with the book. Nevertheless, being a 
resourceful person who got along well 
with others, he obtained results with the 
means at hand, winning the respect and 
support of both Allied and American 
associates.'" 

Port and Shipping Activities 

The task of developing an effective 
transportation system of necessity began 
at the ports, which were the initial objec- 
tives of the Allied assault forces and the 
funnels through which were poured the 
men and materiel required for the cam- 
paign. On 8 November 1942 the three 
task forces made simultaneous landings in 
North Africa. The Center Task Force 
landed near Oran, but was hindered in its 
advance on that port city by stiff French 
resistance. Assistance in breaking the 
deadlock was provided by a transporta- 
tion officer, Colonel Barrett, who per- 
suaded a French railway crew to deliver a 
trainload of ammunition to the embattled 



18th Infantry Regiment.^'' Meanwhile, 
the British-American Eastern Task Force 
had debarked and moved against Algiers, 
and the Western Task Force had landed in 
French Morocco to capture Safi, Fedala, 
and Mehdia, and then to seize Casa- 
blanca. Five U.S. transports were sunk 
during the assault phase, four by enemy 
submarines in Moroccan waters and one 
by bombing and torpedoing off Algiers. 

The early landings in French Morocco 
were marked by delay and confusion. 
Fortunately, the weather was excellent 
and the opposition of the French short- 
lived, and General Patton's ships were 
soon discharging directly onto the piers of 
Safi and Fedala. The high ground swells 
of the Moroccan coastal waters caused 
considerable damage to the landing craft 
that brought the first troops and supplies 
ashore. Here as at Algiers, and to a lesser 
extent at Oran, many craft were lost or 
disabled, and others failed to reach the 
right beach because of faulty navigation 
by inexperienced crews, defective equip- 
ment, and poor construction. By 1 1 No- 
vember 1942 all hostilities had ceased, 
and thereafter cargo operations generally 
could proceed at all occupied ports with- 
out interruption. Direct discharge at the 
docks in Casablanca did not begin until 
13 November, pending the arrival of the 
D-plus-5 follow-up convoy. '■' 



^" Interv, Col Fuller, former deputy to Stewart, 15 
Jun 50, OCT HB North Africa Misc Info. See Hist 
Red, OCT AFHQ NATOUSA, activation to 3 1 Oct 
43, Sees. II, III, and Tabs H, K, L, O, OCT HB 
North Africa. 

'^ Barrett was one of a party of ten Transportation 
Corps officers, headed by Colonel Stewart, who ar- 
rived at Arzew with the Center Task Force on D Day. 

'■'OCT HB Monograph 9, pp. 79-87, 101-02; 
Final Rpt, WTF, Operation Torch, AG Opns 
Analysis File 95-32.7 (7844); Morison, History of Naval 
Operations, II, 167-73, 200-203, 212 13. 



NORTH AFRICA 



153 



Following the assault landings, Casa- 
blanca and Oran were used as the two 
main ports of entry for the U.S. Army. 
Possessing extensive port facilities and rep- 
resenting insurance against enemy closure 
of the Strait of Gibraltar, Casablanca re- 
mained important throughout the North 
African campaign. However, beginning 
early in 1943 an increasing proportion of 
the incoming tonnage was shipped into 
the Mediterranean for discharge at Oran 
and smaller ports in its vicinity, and after 
March Casablanca was no longer used to 
capacity.^*' Algiers remained in British 
hands. 

Although the practice of having sepa- 
rate U.S. or British operation of ports 
generally was observed, in preparation for 
the final offensive a number of small 
British-controlled ports to the east of 
Algiers were made available for use by 
the Americans. Two of these ports, 
Philippeville and Bone, which were lo- 
cated close to the U.S. advance depots at 
Constantine and Tebessa, materially eased 
the pressure on the long overland supply 
lines emanating from the major ports in 
the west. Bizerte, the last major port de- 
veloped by the U.S. Army in North 
Africa, was taken at the conclusion of the 
campaign. Together with Oran, it played 
an important part in the support of later 
operations in the Mediterranean. 

Although each port under U.S. control 
had its own special difficulties, certain 
problems were common to all. Some port 
rehabilitation was inevitable, ranging 
from comparatively little at Casablanca 
and Oran to extensive reconstruction at 
Bizerte. The available port facilities gen- 
erally had to be supplemented from U.S. 
or British resources. Language was a 
formidable barrier, since few Americans 
knew French and fewer still Arabic. Labor 



had to be recruited locally and strict 
supervision was necessary to insure any 
degree of efficiency. Pilferage was com- 
mon and troublesome. Successful accom- 
plishment of discharge operations re- 
quired careful co-ordination with the con- 
necting rail and motor transport facilities, 
which at first were extremely limited. ^^ 

Casablanca 

Casablanca had an excellent artificial 
harbor built around an old fishing port 
and protected by a long breakwater. The 
two main docks, the Commercial and the 
Phosphate, were well equipped with 
modern cargo-handling equipment, pos- 
sessed ample storage space, and had direct 
rail connections. Sunken and damaged 
French vessels, including the huge battle- 
ship Jean Bart, blocked a few berths but 
caused no serious difficulty. Early reports 
of extensive damage by American air and 
naval action at Casablanca were ex- 
aggerated, and the excellent facilities 
available at this modern port permitted 
the ready discharge of large amounts of 
cargo. Limited use was made of the two 
berths at Safi, the single berth at Fedala, 
and also a few outlying ports, but Casa- 
blanca became the principal port in 
French Morocco for both inbound and 
outbound U.S. Army shipments.'- 

Despite the favorable port conditions, 
cargo operations at Casablanca got off^to 
a bad start amid haste, confusion, and 
friction that soon culminated in an acute 
attack of port congestion. The ships of the 
assault convoy had been hurriedly un- 

" OCT HB Monograph, pp. 142-43, 297-301; 
Leighton and Coakley, op. c/L, pp. 477-78. 

■" See Logistical History ofjVATOUSA-MTOUSA, pp. 
99-104, 106-07, 141. 

'■'' OCT HB Monograph 9, pp. 142-43, 157-60. 



154 



THE TRANSPORTATION CORPS 



loaded in order to speed their return to 
the United States and to make way for the 
D-plus-5 convoy. In the absence of port 
troops, the Army's poorly organized work 
details were unequal to the task of cargo 
handling and had to be assisted by Navy 
personnel. The docks were piled high 
with miscellaneous supplies and equip- 
ment, literally dumped from the landing 
craft and lighters in helter-skelter fashion. 
Together with ammunition, packaged 
gasoline, and field rations, for which the 
invaders had immediate use, the assault 
ships brought much excess and unauthor- 
ized equipment smuggled aboard at 
Hampton Roads by eager beavers anxious 
not to be caught short overseas. Because of 
the disorder on the docks at Casablanca, 
the Army had to "forage" for wanted 
items, and since there were insufficient 
guards the natives pilfered almost at will. 
This messy situation still prevailed when 
the first Transportation Corps port or- 
ganization arrived. '■ 

The 6th Port, under the command of 
Col. Howard Parrish, landed at Casa- 
blanca on 19 November 1942 with the D- 
plus-5 convoy, which brought the first 
large contingent of service troops. Colonel 
Parrish had only two port battalions, the 
382d and the 384th, neither of which had 
ever worked on a water front. ^' Except for 
a few seasoned longshoremen, railway 
workers, and truck drivers, these men 
lacked experience and training. Within a 
short time after arrival, both units had 
pitched pup tents in a large empty lot and 
had begun work. 

The difiicultiesof the 382d were typical. 
It found the Phosphate Pier cluttered with 
dunnage, boxes, crates, and drums from 
the D-Day convoy, which had to be 
cleared before their own ships could be 
unloaded. Little cargo gear was available. 



and rope slings were used extensively, 
even for heavy lifts. There was a shortage 
of motor and rail transport to clear the 
docks. Rain fell on the first day and fre- 
quently thereafter. At the end of a twelve- 
hour shift of hard work the men returned 
to cold, damp beds. Cold chow, at first K 
and then C rations, was the rule until the 
unit could set up its mess equipment. Be- 
cause of the confusion and congestion on 
the piers, unsatisfactory working condi- 
tions, and fatigue and lowered vitality 
among the men, the tonnage output of the 
382d at first was not impressive. By 29 
November 1942, through the joint effort of 
the 382d and 384th Port Battalions and a 
few attached units, almost all the cargo in 
the D-plus-5 ships had been discharged. 
The officers and men concerned were 
subsequently commended by General 
Patton for doing what at first was thought 
humanly impossible. 

En route to Casablanca the 6th Port 
had been ordered to operate directly 
under the G-4, Col. WaUer J. Muller, of 
the Western Task Force. During the un- 
loading of the D-plus-5 convoy the G-4 
and his staff" kept a close check on port 
operations, applying constant pressure to 
clear the piers and to expedite cargo dis- 
charge. On occasion the G-4 and other 
superior officers on General Patton's staff" 
issued direct orders to subordinate officers 
of the 6th Port without consulting its com- 
mander. Colonel Parrish objected to this 
"interference," '' which naturally caused 



'' Morison, History of Naval Operations, II, 175-76; 
Hist Rpt, HRPE, II, 3-5, OCT HB; Hist Red, OCT 
AFHQ NATOUSA, activation to 31 Oct 43, Tab 
AK, Annex F, OCT HB North Africa. 

■' See Hist, 382d Port Bn, 16Jun 42-May 44, AG 
Opns RptsTCBN-382-0. 1 (29991), from whicli this 
paragraph is drawn. 

■■■■ Ltr, CO 6th Fort to Cofl' WD, 12 Dec 42, OCT 
I IB North Africa I'orts. 



NORTH AFRICA 



155 



some friction. Relations between Muller 
and Pairish became strained, the former 
questioning the latter \s competence and 
threatening his relief. On 2 December 
1942, the day after the arrival of the D- 
plus-20 convoy, while Colonel Parrish was 
ill. Colonel Muller by verbal order placed 
his executive officer, Colonel Tank, in di- 
rect charge of port operations, leaving 
Colonel Parrish responsible solely for ad- 
ministration and port commander in 
name only. Parrish protested this action 
as irregular and appealed to the Chief of 
Transportation in Washington for clarifi- 
cation of the status of his command, which 
he mistakingly assumed was an exempted 
station. His protest was without avail 
since General Patton, who supported his 
G-4, obviously had the authority and in- 
tended to run the port operation at Casa- 
blanca. '" Parrish remained in nominal 
command of the 6th Port until mid- 
January 1943. 

Apart from the friction between G-4 
and the port commander, which was not 
conducive to high morale, the basic diffi- 
culty at Casablanca at the outset was one 
of insufficient means. In retrospect, both 
Tank and Parrish agreed that there was a 
shortage of motor and rail transport and 
of supporting service units. '' Except for 
the two port battalions, military man- 
power was limited and native labor at 
best was inefficient. Although the 6th Port 
had been promised 200 2y2-ton cargo 
trucks with 1-ton cargo trailers per day 
and enough relief drivers to permit 
around-the-clock operation, the maxi- 
mum number of trucks furnished for port 
clearance in a single shift during Novem- 
ber 1942 was only 72 because of diversions 
to other missions. 

After Colonel Tank took over in De- 
cember, additional troop and native labor 



and more cargo-handling equipment be- 
came available, which greatly facilitated 
cargo discharge and dock clearance. 
Although Tank was recognized as a con- 
scientious and capable officer, some of the 
more experienced members of the 6th 
Port did not always see eye to eye with 
him on port operations. They seriously 
doubted the wisdom of spreading the 
gangs over an entire convoy rather than 
concentrating upon the complete dis- 
charge of individual vessels one at a time. 
Tank, however, was under pressure to 
work the maximum number of ships. 
Both Tank and the 6th Port quickly ran 
into the periodic Transportation Corps 
oversea nightmare, that of cargo being 
discharged faster than it could be cleared 
from the port area by the available port, 
motor, and rail facilities.'^" 

Despite the acute shortage of rail and 
motor transport, the second supporting 
cargo convoy, which consisted of twenty- 
five ships ( 132,362 long tons) and arrived 
on 1 December, was completely dis- 
charged by 20 December 1942. Outload- 
ing, which later was to become a major 
activity at Casablanca, began with this 
convoy. Outbound shipments fell into two 
main categories — cork, phosphate, and 
scrap iron shipped to the zone of interior, 
and troops and cargo sent to the forward 
areas. The next convoy, UGF-3, arrived 
on Christmas Eve carrying mostly per- 
sonnel and little cargo. Under a full 
African moon and with sirens sounding to 
warn of the first enemy air raid since the 



'"'''' Ibid., and Response by Gen Wylie, 12 Jan 43, 
with appended date from rpt of investigation by Lt 
Col P. Parker, IGD, OCT HB North Africa Ports. 

"■' Ltrs, Col Parrish, 1 Jul 50, and Col Tank, 1 1 Jul 
50, to Harold Larson, OCT HB Inquiries. 

■'^ See Col Parker rpt cited n. 56, pp. 1-2, 11-16, 
30-36, 40-43, and Exhibit Q3. 



156 



THE TRANSPORTATION CORPS 



landings, 23,043 passengers were safely 
debarked from eleven ships. ^"* 

Toward the close of 1942 port conges- 
tion ceased, and the lot of the harassed 6th 
Port began to improve. In mid-December 
the two port battalions moved from their 
miserable bivouac areas into more desir- 
able quarters, the 382d to a warehouse 
and the 384th to a balloon hangar. Dur- 
ing the following month morale was fur- 
ther lifted when the mail with their new 
APO address finally caught up with the 
men. The arrival of two other port bat- 
talions, the 379th and 480th, provided 
much needed military personnel. Arabs 
were employed in sizable shifts, averaging 
about 1,000 per day, and proved fairly 
satisfactory as dock labor when closely 
supervised. When the Western Task Force 
somewhat reluctantly relinquished con- 
trol at Casablanca to the Atlantic Base 
Section on 7 January 1943, the 6th Port 
had become an efficient-working organi- 
zation.'^" 

During the ensuing months at Casa- 
blanca U.S. troops and cargo were regu- 
larly discharged and forwarded to the 
combat area. The maximum port activity 
was attained in March 1943, when 156,- 
769 measurement tons were discharged. 
Although the outloading of salvaged and 
captured materials, the evacuation of the 
American sick and wounded, and the re- 
moval of enemy prisoners of war assumed 
increasing importance during the spring 
and summer, the over-all port traffic de- 
chned. Because of the increased emphasis 
on the use of the Mediterranean ports, 
which had shorter lines of communica- 
tions to the Tunisian front, Casablanca 
was no longer used to capacity. Following 
the end of Axis resistance in North Africa 
in May 1943, the port lapsed into a sec- 
ondary role. After handling approxi- 



mately 1.5 million measurement tons, two 
thirds of it incoming cargo, during the 
first nine months of its operation, Casa- 
blanca was the scene of minor U.S. trans- 
portation activity until the fall of 1945."^ 

Or an 

When measured in troops debarked 
and cargo discharged, Oran and its sub- 
ports far surpassed Casablanca and its 
satellites during the North African cam- 
paign."" The 3d Port began activity at 
Oran on 12 November 1942, under the 
command of Colonel Lastayo. The unit 
had gained some experience at the Bristol 
Channel ports in the United Kingdom 
and was far better prepared than the 6th 
Port for assignment in North Africa. From 
the beginning, Lastayo maintained close 
liaison with the Commanding General, 
Center Task Force, and he worked in close 
collaboration with the Mediterranean 
Base Section (MBS) commander (Larkin) 
and the MBS transportation officer 
(Stewart). Subsequently, Oran became 
the principal port of the Mediterranean 
Base Section. Mers el Kebir, Nemours, 
Mostaganem, and Arzew, all nearby, 
were employed to handle the overflow 
from Oran. 

Although only a roadstead shielded by 
a breakwater, Mers el Kebir received con- 
siderable cargo during the first phase of 



"» Hist, 6th Port, I, 36, 40-45, 66-68, OCT HB 
Oversea Ports. 

'''" Ibid., I, 38-40, 43, 48-50, 54-55, 62; Hist, Trans 
Sec ABS, pp. 5-6, 15-16, 20-24, OCT HB North 
Africa. Tank was succeeded as port commander on 
14 January 1943 by Col. Eggleston W. Peach. 

'■■ Hist, 6th Port, H, 6, 9, 11-12, 17-18, 20, OCT 
HB Oversea Ports; ASF MPR, Sec. 3, 30 Sep 43, pp. 
54-59. 

"- Except where otherwise indicated, this section is 
based upon Ilisl, 3(i Port, 20 Jun 44, OCT HB Over- 
sea Polls. 



NORTH AFRICA 



157 



the invasion. The small artificial harbor of 
Nemours, to the west of Oran, was not 
ustd extensively i-uvtil the summer of 1943. 
Mostaganem and Arzew, both linked with 
Oran by rail, had fairly adequate cargo- 
handling equipment, and during Febru- 
ary 1943, their peak month of activity, 
they discharged 28,138 and 32,781 long 
tons, respectively. 

At Oran the port area consisted of a 
narrow strip of land at the base of a steep 
cliff, above which lay the city. The U.S. 
Army operated at three piers, normally 
using fourteen berths to discharge cargo. 
The port was well supplied with heavy 
lift equipment, including four floating 
cranes ranging in capacity from 100 to 
150 tons, but the equipment was not im- 
mediately available. The first unloading, 
therefore, was done with ship's gear, sup- 
plemented by the organizational equip- 
ment of the 397th and 399th Port Bat- 
talions. At the outset, to facilitate mainte- 
nance, cargo gear was pooled at Mers 
el Kebir and Oran. It included among 
other things, 10 fork-lift trucks, 6 mobile 
1 '/2-ton cranes, 10 warehouse tractors, 15 
warehouse trailers, rope and wire nets, 
shackles, bridles, trays, and pallets for 
about 15 vessels. 

After landing at Mers el Kebir the men 
of the 3d Port marched the six miles to 
Oran. There they found a disorganized 
port, the quays littered with barrels of 
wine and other merchandise, the ware- 
houses in disorder, and the harbor strewn 
with sunken craft. Since storage space was 
very much limited, prompt clearance of 
cargo was needed to prevent congestion. 
Fortunately, the port facilities were intact 
and the berths accessible. The principal 
operating problem was to find sufficient 
manpower to work around the clock. 
Wherever possible, native labor was ob- 



tained in order to release American sol- 
diers for other duties and to benefit the 
local economy. Some civVlvaiiS were em- 
ployed directly, others were engaged 
through a labor syndicate, which dis- 
charged vessels under contract on a ton- 
nage basis. As many as 3,000 civilians 
were employed at the port, the menial 
tasks falling to the natives. Under- 
nourished, ill clad, poor workers, and fre- 
quently pilferers, they had to be watched 
at all times. In addition to the natives, at 
the peak of operations the 3d Port used six 
or seven port battalions.''' 

Apart from the labor situation, the 
major problem was to keep the cargo 
moving. Port clearance was dependent 
largely on motor transport, since the rail 
network allowed direct access to the ships 
at only a few points. Instead of having 
each supply service move its own items 
from port to depot, a provisional freight 
dispatch company, the 6697th, was set up 
in port headquarters to control and direct 
each movement and operate a motor pool. 
The 3d Port had two hundred 2V2-ton 
trucks constantly at its service. These were 
supplemented daily by 125 to 150 pri- 
vately owned French trucks, all flat beds 
from 12 to 23 feet long. The French vehi- 
cles burned wood or charcoal, were old, 
and were in poor mechanical condition. 
The acquistion of large U.S. Army semi- 
trailers, which could carry heavy and 
oversize items such as piling and rails, per- 
mitted the release of many inferior French 
trucks. Port clearance was expedited by 
the gradual increase in the number of 
U.S. Army trucks of various types, greater 



''^ After Italy's capitulation, selected Italian pris- 
oners of war were organized into port and service 
battalions, which proved satisfactory and lessened the 
need of native labor. 



158 



THE TRANSPORTATION CORPS 



speed in loading and unloading vehicles, 
and improved control of motor transport. 
Truck strength at the port reached the 
peak on 25 May 1943, when 479 trucks 
were used during the day and 474 during 
the night to haul 7,546 tons of freight. 

It was soon found that the Table of Or- 
ganization for the port was inadequate. 
Continuous operation at Oran and its sub- 
ports required more officers and enlisted 
men than were available. No provision 
had been made for a Port Provost Marshal 
Section, although it was urgently needed 
to direct the effort against pilferage and 
possible sabotage. At the outset the num- 
ber of guards was grossly inadequate, con- 
sisting of two engineer companies trans- 
formed overnight into military police. By 
far the most acute problem was to sup- 
press the pilfering fostered by the fantastic 
prices of the local black market. A sum- 
mary court procedure was employed to 
mete out prompt punishment, and fifty- 
one cases were brought to trial in a single 
day. In addition to the natives, merchant 
seamen were frequent offenders, and U.S. 
military personnel were also involved. As 
a precaution against pilfering, all inbound 
and outbound cargo was funneled through 
a single gate at the port. Any items likely 
to be stolen, such as subsistence, post ex- 
change supplies, and whiskey, had to be 
accompanied by guards. 

Cargo discharge at Oran reached a new 
high in February 1943, when a total of 
206,195 long tons was unloaded from 38 
Liberty ships. Thereafter, as the fighting 
extended eastward, other ports were de- 
veloped nearer to the front. Nonetheless, 
Oran remained important both for the 
supply of American troops in North Africa 
and for the outloading of U.S. Army cargo 
for the later campaigns in Sicily, Italy, 
and southern France.'* ' 



Philippeville, Bone, and Bizerte 

As previously noted, the Eastern Base 
Section was created early in 1943, pri- 
marily to strengthen the long supply line 
to Tunisia. Despite all efforts exerted to 
utilize both rail and highway routes into 
eastern Algeria from Casablanca, Oran, 
and Algiers, the available facilities simply 
did not suffice to move the volume of ma- 
teriel needed by the Allied troops. The 
small British-controlled port of Philippe- 
ville, located about 400 miles east of Oran, 
afforded a partial solution, although it had 
been severely bombed, could not receive 
vessels of deep draft, and had a maximum 
daily capacity of only 1,500 long tons. As 
soon as possible the harbor was dredged to 
accommodate ships drawing up to twenty- 
two feet, and American port personnel 
and mechanized equipment were brought 
in to assist the British. By March 1943 
ever-increasing amounts of cargo were be- 
ing discharged at Philippeville, to be for- 
warded by rail and motor transport south 
to the newly established general depot at 
Ouled Rahmoun and thence east to the 
advance dump at Tebessa." ' 

In preparation for the final drive in the 
Tunisian campaign, use had to be made of 
ports east of Philippeville. Late in March 
1943 the British-held port of Bone was 
pressed into service for the Americans. Its 
harbor had thirty feet of water and could 
therefore take fully loaded Liberty vessels, 
but the almost constant air raids ham- 
pered cargo discharge. Subsequently, port 



''' See Supplements 4 and 5, Hist, 3d Port, Aug-Sep 
44, OCT HB Oversea Ports. By September 1944 the 
outloading of cargo predominated at Oran, and late 
in February 1945 the port was released to French 
military control. Hist Red, OCT AFHQ MTOUSA, 
Jan-Mar 45, OCT HB North Africa. 

'■■ Hist Red, 'Frans Sec EBS, 22 Feb-30 Apr 43, pp. 
6-8, 10, OC'F HB North Africa. 



NORTH AFRICA 



159 



operations were pushed still farther east- 
ward to La Calle and Tabarka, two minor 
coastal ports where U.S. Army cargo was 
discharged from vessels of shallow draft, 
including British and American landing 
craft and a fleet of fourteen small Cornish 
fishing boats that were dispatched daily 
from Bone. This water route was supple- 
mented by an overland route that used a 
meter-gauge railway as far as La Calle 
and motor transport the remainder of the 
distance to Tabarka. Philippeville and 
Bone, though useful, were soon sup- 
planted by the strategically located port of 
Bizerte, which came under the 8th Port in 
late May 1943.'^'^ 

Bizerte had suffered severely from Allied 
bombing and Axis destruction, the sur- 
rounding waters were dotted with the 
hulks of sunken enemy vessels, and the city 
was in ruins. The main port of Bizerte lay 
at the head of a narrow channel leading 
from the Mediterranean into the deep 
land-locked Lake of Bizerte, at the end of 
which were the docks at Ferryville. The 
proximity of this port area to Sicily, cou- 
pled with the good rail and highway facili- 
ties of northern Tunisia, made Bizerte a 
valuable base. The first U.S. cargo had to 
be unloaded from coasters to lighters. 
Meanwhile, the harbor and the entrance 
to the lake were cleared of obstructions 
and berthing space was readied. Two Lib- 
erty ships began discharging at pier side 
on 12 June. 

Supporting port facilities in need of 
repair, such as damaged roads and broken 
water mains, were reconditioned as quickly 
as possible. Because of frequent enemy air 
raids all discharged cargo had to be re- 
moved immediately from the port area. 
In the latter part of June 1943 general 
cargo was being unloaded at the rate of 
3,000 or more long tons per day, and bulk 



petroleum products frequently increased 
the total daily discharge to well over 
10,000 long tons. During the following 
summer Bizerte became a major port of 
embarkation for the assault and follow-up 
forces for the Sicilian and Italian cam- 
paigns.''' 

Port and Shipping Problems 

In the course of the North African cam- 
paign numerous problems were encoun- 
tered in the conduct of shipping and port 
activities. Most of them were also to be 
found in other theaters, but since the spot- 
light was thrown first on North Africa the 
lessons learned there were given early and 
wide circulation.'''' The experience of the 
Transportation Corps indicated that the 
planning and preparations for oversea 
port operations should be made in detail, 
including provision for berthing space for 
at least the first two cargo convoys; ade- 
quate port equipment such as fork-lift and 
hand trucks, crawler cranes, dollies, pal- 
lets, cables, ropes, tools, and acetylene 
torches; and sufficient trained port per- 
sonnel to work around the clock. The 
choice of an officer for the "man-size job" 
of port commander should be made most 
carefully. The grave deficiencies in pack- 
ing and marking called for corrective 
action in the zone of interior. In particu- 
lar, cardboard and corrugated paper car- 
tons were strongly condemned as unsatis- 
factory for amphibious landings. Excessive 
sizes and weights of such items as landing 

>"'' Ibid., 22 Feb-30 Apr 43. pp. 23-25, and 1 May- 
30Jun 43, p. 44; Hist, 8th Port. 1942-44, pp. 5-7, 
OCT HB Oversea Ports. 

"■ Hist Red, Trans Sec EBS, 1 May-30 Jun 43, pp. 
44-49, 53-55, and 1 Jul-20 Sep 43, pp. 41-50, OCT 
HB North Africa. 

'^'^ For the TC report and related comments, see Hist 
Red, OCT AFHQ NATOUSA, activation to 3 1 Oct 
43, Tab AK, OCT HB North Africa. 



160 



THE TRANSPORTATION CORPS 



mats in 5,000-pound bundles called for 
heavy lift equipment. Organizational im- 
pedimenta often were poorly packed and 
marked, emphasizing the need of early 
and better preparation for oversea move- 
ments on the part of units, home stations, 
and service commands. The urgent need 
for amphibian vehicles in port and beach 
operations was clearly established, and the 
serious shortcomings in the characteristics 
and functioning of the available landing 
craft were pointed up by their mortality 
rate in the assault, despite the fact that 
there was little or no shore opposition. 

Port activity naturally centered about 
the ships that brought men and materiel 
to the theater. The movements of these 
vessels were strictly circumscribed by the 
convoy system, which might mean, as 
happened at Casablanca, that a given 
Liberty ship would have to depart, even 
though not fully discharged, lest she miss 
the returning convoy. According to the 
theater chief of transportation, his princi- 
pal difficulty arose from failure to receive 
complete, accurate, and direct informa- 
tion on inbound convoys and cargo suffi- 
ciently in advance of the actual arrival of 
the ships."-' Although the ports in the 
United States endeavored to speed the 
dispatch of such vital data, annoying de- 
lays occurred, especially in the initial 
phase when communications for North 
Africa had to be sent via London. The 
port commander at Oran at first tried to 
rely on air-mailed manifests, but two con- 
voys arrived ahead of the shipping papers 
and the result was confusion. To prevent 
recurrence, special Transportation Corps 
couriers were employed until the regular 
U.S. Army courier system proved more 
dependable.'" 

Similarly, the distribution of shipping 
data from the theater chief of t ransporta- 



tion to the North African ports and base 
sections in the beginning was haphazard 
and unreliable. Procurement of an elec- 
tric mimeograph machine permitted rapid 
reproduction of shipping papers,'^ but a 
special Transportation Corps courier sys- 
tem had to be instituted to insure safe and 
prompt delivery of information within the 
theater. Akin to the basic difficulty of get- 
ting adequate data on incoming convoys 
and cargo was the daily problem of keep- 
ing abreast of the new and ever-changing 
code names, shipment numbers, and ship- 
ping designators, since cargo consistently 
arrived in the theater with markings that 
were unfamiliar to the port personnel, who 
in this instance became the victims of too 
much security. 

As in the United Kingdom, "diversion 
meetings" were held before the arrival of 
each convoy in order to determine the 
number of ships to be received and dis- 
charged at each port. Attended by repre- 
sentatives of the U.S. theater chief of trans- 
portation and all agencies having an in- 
terest in the cargo, the Diversion Commit- 
tee assigned ships to individual ports, 
taking into consideration the desires of the 



"■' On the problems of disseminating shipping in- 
formation to and within the theater, see the following: 
Hist Red, OCT AFHQ NATOUSA, activation to 31 
Oct 43, Sec. Ill and Tab Q; Hist, Trans Sec ABS, pp. 
2U22, 25-26. Both in OCT HB North Africa. Sharp 
lecture cited n. 13, p. 10. For similar problems en- 
countered in the United Kingdom, see above. Chapter 
HI. 

'" The first Transportation Corps courier from the 
New York port arrived by air at Casablanca on 19 
February 1943. 

'' The principal shipping papers were the cargo- 
loading cable, the first source of information on in- 
bound cargo; the hatch breakdown of the manifest, 
which was forwarded to the theater by air courier, 
together with a set of clean stencils to reproduce this 
document as a guide for the desired cargo distribu- 
tion to supply depots and dumps within the theater; 
and the ship's manifest, of which two advance copies 
were scni by air to the theater chief of transportation. 



NORTH AFRICA 



16: 



supply services involved and the ability of 
the ports to receive and discharge the ves- 
sels. The theater chief of transportation 
staffalso attended the weekly Priority of 
Movements (POM) meetings, at which 
SOS, Air Forces, U.S. Navy, and Allied 
forces tonnage requirements were bid and 
allotments of shipping space made. 

Co-ordination of all shipping questions 
arising in the theater was handled through 
the North African (later, Mediterranean) 
Shipping Board, on which the U.S. the- 
ater chief of transportation was repre- 
sented. Composed of representatives of the 
British Ministry of War Transport, the 
American War Shipping Administration, 
and all U.S. and British military agen- 
cies concerned with merchant shipping, 
NASBO provided advice regarding the 
allocation of shipping in the area; nomi- 
nated to the naval commander-in-chief 
vessels for inclusion in convoys originating 
in the theater; expedited the turnaround 
of vessels; allocated ships for imports and 
exports of civilian cargo; co-ordinated the 
movement of tankers and colliers; and 
cared for the welfare of merchant seamen. 

A major task within each American- 
controlled port was the co-ordination of 
the activities of the three U.S. operating 
agencies most vitally concerned with ship- 
ping — the Navy, the Army, and the War 
Shipping Administration. A local port 
committee representing the interested 
parties, American and Allied, met daily 
and ironed out the operating details 
common to all.'" 

Despite inexperienced personnel, lim- 
ited facilities, and the constant haste and 
pressure of war, the U.S. -operated ports 
in North Africa rolled up an impressive 
record. Oran and its subports carried the 
largest load, but the ports in the other two 
base sections also were active. The follow- 



ing tabulation shows the long tons of gen- 
eral cargo, bulk POL (petrol, oils, and 
lubricants), and coal, and the number of 
vehicles discharged in each base section 
up to 30 June 1943:'' 

Base Central 

Section Cargo Bulk POL Coat Vehicles 

ABS 745,742 242,710 89,531 40,122 

MBS 1,282,532 266,665 142,443 30,217 

EBS 125, 275 69, 729 52, 640 4, 967 



Highway Transport 

Efficiency of port operation depended 
mainly upon the rate of port clearance, 
which was effected primarily by highway 
transport. ^^ Since the rail facilities might 
be destroyed, the initial Transportation 
Corps planning in London aimed at port 
clearance solely by truck. At first only 
short hauls (port to dump) were contem- 
plated, although long hauls (50 to 250 
miles) later were found necessary because 
of the inadequacy of rail transport. The 
planning included the development of 
traffic systems, forms, and SOP's (standing 
operating procedures). Traffic regulating 
personnel made available by the 531st 
Engineer Boat Regiment were trained for 

'-' See Sharp lecture cited n. 13, pp. 8-12; and Hist 
Red, OCT AFHQ NATOUSA, activation to 3 1 Oct 
43, Sec. Ill and Tab A, OCT HE North Africa. 

■^ ABS and MBS statistics cover the period 8 No- 
vember 1942-30June 1943. The EBS data begin with 
the activation of that base section in February 1943. 
See Hist Red. OCT AFHQ NATOUSA, activation to 
31 Oct 43, Sec. VII and Tab AN, OCT HB North 
Africa. 

" ^ Except as otherwise indicated, this section is based 
on the following: Rpt, Maj Arthur G. Siegle, High- 
way Operations in North Africa, Apr 43, Pts. 1-4; 
Trans School, Ft. Eustis, Va., Highway Unit Train- 
ing Pamphlet No. 9; Talk by Lt Col Franklin M. 
Kreml at Trans School, Ft. Eustis, 29 Oct 48. .'\11 in 
OCT HB. Hist Red, OCT AFHQ NATOUSA. ac- 
tivation to 31 Oct 43, Sec. Ill (5) and Tab AJ, OCT 
HB North Africa; Ltr, Kreml. 18 Sep 50, HIS 330.14 
(4 Aug 50), OCMH. 



162 



THE TRANSPORTATION CORPS 



six days at Liverpool, immediately before 
sailing for North Africa. 

Early Operations 

No highway division was established by 
the theater chief of transportation until 
July 1943 since there was very little inter- 
sectional operation of highway transport 
apart from organic movements and deliv- 
eries to the east of new vehicles. While the 
hostilities continued, except for a few large 
movements, the control of highway traffic 
was left mainly to the base section trans- 
portation officers. The nature of the con- 
trol over highway transport varied among 
the base sections. In the Atlantic and 
Eastern Base Sections this control tended 
to be centralized, but in the Mediterra- 
nean Base Section it was decentralized 
between port and highway movements. 
The Americans at first lacked both trained 
personnel and an established procedure 
for effective over-the-road control, but for- 
tunately they received splendid assistance 
from the British, who had both the men 
and the system needed.' ' 

The Transportation Corps planners for 
highway transport, Captains Kreml and 
Barton, landed at Arzew on 8 November 
1942 with Colonel Stewart's advance 
party. The first task was to organize suffi- 
cient motor transport to support the com- 
bat troops once they had exhausted the 
three days' supply carried ashore on their 
backs. The capture of Oran made avail- 
able approximately 380 charcoal-burning 
trucks belonging to a wine syndicate, 
which were promptly requisitioned. Both 
at Casablanca and at Oran a shortage of 
U.S. Army trucks hindered port opera- 
tion. Locally owned vehicles were pressed 
into service, but considerable difhculty 
was experienced because of inability to 



exercise adequate control over the civilian 
drivers. 

Back piling, that is, temporary storage, 
of cargo in the port areas was necessary, 
not only because of an insufficient number 
of trucks for port clearance but also be- 
cause the vehicles themselves were not 
suitable for carrying certain items such as 
cased vehicles. Although highly desirable, 
back piling by class was not practiced in 
the early and most critical stage of cargo 
clearance, in part because port troops were 
not aware of the importance of properly 
sorting back-piled cargo, and in part be- 
cause of having to rely largely on native 
labor. As a result, the transportation sys- 
tem was less efficient than it might have 
been had supplies been stacked by class so 
as to facilitate transfer to dumps and 
depots when more trucks became avail- 
able. 

Contributing to initial confusion at the 
ports was the lack of an effective control 
system by which trucks, storage space, and 
labor could have been fitted like links in 
the tight chain of military transportation. 
The local communication system at best 
was grossly inadequate for the control of 
motor transport. In such a large port as 
Oran, telephones were either lacking or 
useless, and communication was main- 
tained by runners. An attempt to employ 
walkie-talkies was stopped by the signal 
officer on the ground of security violation. 
Without adequate control, trucks got lost, 
drivers went ofTon their own, and tie-ups 
developed at dumps, thereby depriving 
the ports of badly needed motor transport. 

To his regret, Captain Kreml had failed 
to bring a goodly supply of road signs. In 
the absence of such signs, and especially 
after dark, bewildered American drivers 



"■' Interv, Maj Harry D. Kamy, 20-21 Sep 44, OCT 
IIB North Africa Misc Info. 



NORTH AFRICA 



163 



wasted many hours trying to find the 
dumps. Luckily, French drivers knew 
where to go if shown the location on a 
map, and after a week or ten days of ori- 
entation Americans also could be trusted 
not to get lost. Ultimately, an effective 
control system was established whereby 
trucks were dispatched daily as required 
and were kept under close supervision 
from port to dump by a central highway 
office. To avoid impending tie-ups fewer 
trucks might be dispatched to a congested 
dump or additional labor obtained for 
unloading at destination. The object was 
to keep the trucks moving, preferably 
around the clock if enough drivers could 
be obtained.'"' 

The Transportation Corps was embar- 
rassed repeatedly by not being consulted 
in the initial selection of dumps and 
depots. The ideal location was high, dry, 
and firm terrain able to support truck 
traffic, situated near the port, and adja- 
cent to connecting rail and highway facili- 
ties. Actually, when the rains came, some 
dumps became seas of mud, and at Oran 
as many as sixty trucks were mired in one 
night. The cargo capacity at the destina- 
tion frequently failed to match the incom- 
ing volume. For instance, the Class I dump 
in Oran was a warehouse with an inside 
loading platform that accommodated only 
two trucks, thereby forcing other vehicles 
to wait. At another site the mud was so 
thick that the dump had to be closed and 
the supplies moved elsewhere. 

Although the roads deteriorated under 
wartime traffic, they were kept reasonably 
usable by the Corps of Engineers. In the 
latter stages of the campaign, however, 
two important bottlenecks developed in 
the Eastern Base Section. One was in the 
mountainous La Calle-Tabarka area, 
where truck operation was handicapped 



by poorly surfaced roads, steep grades, 
and sharp turns; and the other, in the 
vicinity of the important supply base of 
Constantine, where rain made the high- 
ways dangerously slippery. 

During the early, critical stage of port 
clearance, the trucks carried all they pos- 
sibly could, subject only to being able to 
get in and out of the muddy dumps. The 
standard U.S. Army 2 '/2-ton 6x6 truck 
could safely carry 4 to 5 tons, but it was 
virtually useless for moving bulky cargo 
such as cased vehicles, airplane parts, rails, 
and telephone poles. Larger trucks would 
have been useful, and tractors with semi- 
trailers would have proved very helpful, 
since the trailers could be dropped off for 
loading and picked up later. One-ton 
trailers were considered uneconomical for 
short hauls, but later proved useful for 
runs from Philippeville to Tebessa and 
Ouled Rahmoun. Ships were discharged 
at Philippeville only during daylight 
hours, and the cargo was stacked. At night 
inbound trucks left empty one-ton trailers 
to be filled, then received their own ship- 
ments, and finally returned to attach the 
loaded one-ton trailers for the outbound 
trip. 

Except for cargo clearance from port to 
dump, the bulk of the motor traffic moved 
eastward, principally by convoy. Convoys 
of organic vehicles carrying men and sup- 
plies generally were loaded and dispatched 
from Casablanca and Oran, proceeding 
eastward under Transportation Corps 
traflfic control to Orleansville, at which 
point they became subject to British move- 
ment control. Replacement vehicles usu- 
ally were taken forward in convoy by 
oflficer and enlisted replacements who 

"'^ For details of the control system, which varied 
somewhat among the base sections, see Highway Unit 
Training Pamphlet No. 9 cited n. 74. 



164 



THE TRANSPORTATION CORPS 



were frequently inexperienced drivers 
simply drafted for the job.'" U.S. Army 
freight moved by convoy in accordance 
with priority lists. In addition to American 
motor transport, both organic and casual, 
the North African highways had to carry 
British and French traffic. Under these 
circumstances effective control over motor 
traffic, including convoys, was essential to 
prevent highway congestion. 

Detailed AFHQ instructions for the 
conduct of motor convoys began appear- 
ing early in February 1943, when this type 
of traffic had become significant in the 
theater. As a rule, the officers in charge 
were cautioned to adhere strictly to the 
prevailing speed limits (usually 25 miles 
per hour or less in built-up areas) and the 
prescribed traffic density (15 vehicles to 
the mile), in order to avoid casualties to 
the native population arising from careless 
driving. Small advance parties were to be 
sent ahead to make arrangements at the 
next intermediate point. Each convoy was 
to begin with enough rations for seven 
days and gasoline for 500 miles. The nor- 
mal halts were to be observed, and the 
progress of the movement was to be 
checked at the traffic control posts en 
route. A blue flag was to be carried by the 
leading vehicle and a green flag by the 
rear vehicle. Guards had to be placed on 
the cargo trucks for protection against 
marauding natives and hungry soldiers. 

In order to regulate convoy movements 
a chain of traffic control stations was set 
up early in 1943, beginning at Casa- 
blanca. According to Kreml, this traffic 
regulation at first did not work well. As 
the American convoys pushed eastward 
beyond Orleansville, their movements 
conflicted with those of the British, who 
therefore insisted upon regulating all U.S. 
Army highway movements from the west. 



Imbued with the traditional American 
spirit of independence, both service and 
combat elements objected vigorously to 
having their movements regulated. As a 
result, the British complained to AFHQ 
that they were deluged by approximately 
2,900 vehicles passing through Orleans- 
ville in a single day, instead of the 1,800 
vehicles that had been agreed upon as the 
normal daily load at that point. This par- 
ticular difficulty was resolved by an 
AFHQdirective subjecting all such move- 
ments to regulation. 

A second difficulty was one of commu- 
nications. A movement might be cleared 
from, say, Oran, but the traffic control of- 
ficers on the road frequently could not be 
inforined of the plan because of broken 
telephone connections. A call generally 
had to pass through several switchboards 
and, as Kreml said, it was a miracle to get 
through and an even greater one to be 
heard. Highway traffic regulations, to be 
effective, depended upon an adequate, 
centralized communication system hard 
to achieve under combat conditions. 

Long hauls of the convoy type hardly 
became significant until Generalfeld- 
marschall Erwin Rommel broke through 
the American defenses at Kasserine in 
February 1943. Because of the loss of the 
limited rail net in this area, it became 
necessary overnight to activate several 
new truck battalions for service in the 
Eastern Base Section, primarily to deliver 
ammunition, petroleum products, rations, 
and other supplies for the support of the 
U.S. II Corps near Tebessa. These truck- 
ing units were hastily organized with 
untrained personnel drawn from various 
combat units. The 2640th Quartermaster 
Battalion (Truck), for instance, had many 

" Intcrv, Maj Kamy. L'0-21 Sep 44, OCT HB 
North Africa Misc Info, 



NORTH AFRICA 



165 



men wlio had not even driven automo- 
biles in civilian life. Within a week the 
battalion had loaded high-priority freight 
and was on the road heading east from 
Casablanca. Despite mountainous terrain, 
the long trip to Ouled Rahmoun was 
completed successfully on 23 March 1943, 
less than a month after the battalion had 
been hurriedly activated at Casablanca. 
The unit at once began operating on a 
twenty-four-hour hauling schedule."'' 

Convov UGS-5'/2 

The transformation of the campaign 
from a stalemated operation mired down 
in mud into a war of movement greatly 
increased the demands on the limited 
overland transport facilities in the theater. 
Fortunately, the need had been antic- 
ipated early in 1943. After participating 
in the Casablanca Conference, General 
Somervell had taken a direct hand in im- 
proving the rail and highway facilities in 
the theater, which even then fell far short 
of satisfying the current demands. In late 
January, after conferring at Algiers with 
General Eisenhower and his staff, Somer- 
vell concluded that motor and rail trans- 
port represented the greatest need in 
North Africa. Accordingly, in a long radio 
message he startled the War Department 
by demanding that a special convoy be 
sent on 15 February with a huge quantity 
of highway and rail equipment, together 
with certain other urgent items. No ob- 
stacle, declared Somervell, was to be per- 
mitted to interfere with this shipment as 
directed.'" At the same time approxi- 
mately 4,000 new service troops were re- 
quested in addition to an MRS detach- 
ment of about 25 officers and enlisted 
men, under Brig. Gen. Carl R. Gray, Jr., 



upon whom Somervell counted for correc- 
tive action to increase the capacity of the 
North African railways.""' 

The special convoy assembled at 
Somervell's behest was an excellent ex- 
ample of effective wartime co-operation. ""' 
Time was short, shipping tight, and mate- 
riel scarce. The Navy agreed to furnish 
the necessary escorts. The War Shipping 
Administration somehow managed to spot 
twenty available cargo ships, but their 
locations were such that loadings had to 
be done at New York, Baltimore, and 
Hampton Roads. In Washington, the As- 
sistant Chief of Transportation, General 
Wylie, personally supervised the assem- 
bling of the cargo and its movement to the 
ports. 

The most pressing transportation re- 
quirement was motor transport, which 
had been in short supply from the begin- 
ning of the North African operation be- 
cause the number of vehicles accompany- 
ing the initial task forces had been dras- 
tically cut for lack of shipping space. In 
fact, at his first conference with the thea- 
ter commander. General Somervell had 
suggested scheduling a special convoy 
primarily to deliver as many trucks as 
possible. The original plan called for 5,000 
2V2-ton cargo trucks, 400 5-ton dump 
trucks, and 2,000 1-ton, 2-wheel cargo 



'•" Hist Red, Trans Sec EBS. 22 Feb-30 Apr 43, pp. 
10-14. 

"'' Rad, Algiers to AGWAR, No. 7428, 26 Jan 43, 
CM-IN 12248, OCT HB North Africa Convoy 5/2. 
This message provoked Maj. Gen. Wilhelm D. Styer's 
often-quoted reply pleading for more time if the 
Pentagon Building had to be shipped. History of Plan- 
ning Division, Army Service Forces, Vol. HI, App. 
4-A, DRB AGO. 

'*" Compilation by TC Ping Div. 26 Jan 43. and 
Memo, Teletype Con\', Soniervell, Gross, and Styer, 
26 Jan 43, OCT HB North Africa Convoy 5'/2. 

*" The convoy was known variously as Convoy 5'/2, 
UGS-5!/2, UGS-5.5, and UGS-5A. 



166 



THE TRANSPORTATION CORPS 



trailers. Smaller 1 ^2-1011 equipment had 
to be substituted for 5-ton dump trucks, 
which were unavailable. Since the 5,000 
2'/2-ton trucks were the largest single item 
requested, General Wylie decided that 
this portion of the shipment would have 
to be cut about 10 percent in order to in- 
sure space for other must cargo. The trucks 
were shipped in part on wheels but mostly 
boxed. "*- 

The principal railway items requested 
by Somervell for inclusion in the convoy 
were 5 80-ton locomotives, 5 56-ton war 
flats, and 25 15-ton and 25 30-ton meter- 
gauge wagons. The meter-gauge items 
were to be restricted to specific ships in 
order to permit diversion to ports in the 
forward area where such equipment was 
most needed. The additional locomotives 
and rolling stock were calculated to inject 
new life into the ailing North African rail 
line. 

Despite a tight squeeze in assembling 
the cargo and the snow and rain that 
slowed the loading, the special convoy 
sailed from Hampton Roads on 1 7 Febru- 
ary 1943. The result in large measure of 
unremitting effort by the Transportation 
Corps, this shipment gave valuable sup- 
port to the theater. Some items had to be 
left behind, but the bulk of the transpor- 
tation equipment was shipped, including 
4,536 2V2-ton cargo trucks and 1 ,872 1 -ton 
trailers.**^ The convoy, which reached the 
theater early in March, was hailed as a 
godsend by General Eisenhower. The 
trucks greatly increased the mobility of 
the Allied forces, and the locomotives and 
other rolling stock helped prevent a 
breakdown of the North African railways. 
The theater commander later attributed 
the success of the Tunisian campaign 
largely to the support from the special 
convoy.**^ 



Supporting the Final Offensive 

In the theater, meanwhile, highway 
activities in the Eastern Base Section were 
being stepped up. In preparation for the 
impending Allied counteroffensive, sup- 
plies were brought in through the port of 
Philippeville and the railhead at Ouled 
Rahmoun for forwarding by truck or rail 
to Tebessa. At the outset, the principal 
difficulty came from accepting tonnage 
commitments in excess of the actual 
capacity to deliver. A potentially danger- 
ous gap between promise and perform- 
ance was closed by means of a weekly 
highway transport program, predicated 
on the available lift on the one hand and 
the service demands on the other, subject 
to arbitration and approval by the G-4 of 
the Eastern Base Section. During the last 
half of March 1943, 16,722 tons were 
moved east from Ouled Rahmoun, of 
which 9,544 tons went by truck and the 
remaining 7,178 tons by rail.''' 

Aside from the obvious disadvantage of 
functioning with hastily organized and 
largely untrained personnel, the trucking 
units in this area at first had two major 
handicaps that impaired their operating 
efficiency. One was the failure to load the 
2'/2-ton trucks to the maximum capacity. 

"- Memo, Wylie to Styer, 14 Feb 43, OCT HB 
North Africa Convoy 5'/4. 

'^ ' Other cargo included automotive spare parts, 
construction equipment, PX supplies, and high- 
priority Signal, Medical, and Air Forces items. See 
OCT HB North Africa Convoy bV>. 

'~' Ltrs, Eisenhower to Somervell, 28 May 43, and 
Styer to Somervell, 13 Jun 43, Hq ASF CofS 1942- 
43. The prompt delivery of the trucks made a deep 
impression on Eisenhower. Ltr, Franklin to Gross, 5 
Nov 44, OCT HB Gross ETO; Dwight D. Eisen- 
hower, Crusade in Europe (New York: Doubleday & 
Company, Inc., 1948), pp. 148-49. 

^ ■ Hist Red, Trans Sec EBS, 22 Feb-30 Apr 43, p. 
15, OCT HB North Africa; Ltr and Comments, 
Kreml, 18 Sep 50, HIS 330.14 (4 Aug 50), OCMH. 



NORTH AFRICA 



167 



The other was the lack of a firm trucking 
schedule that would achieve a steady flow 
of freight with the best possible turn- 
around time. Motor transport also suf- 
fered from an acute shortage of tools, 
maintenance equipment, spare parts, and 
tire-patching material, for which there 
was only gradual relief. 

By mid-March 1943 the volume of 
highway traffic in the Eastern Base Sec- 
tion had grown so great that Major Kreml 
was assigned to make a special study of 
the traffic pattern with a view to possible 
improvement. He recommended that the 
highway system, hitherto under British 
movement control, be organized into 
"blocks," much like those used by rail- 
ways. Roadside traffic control stations 
were set up at intervals of about thirty 
miles, all connected by telephone with an 
area dispatcher, who could then tell at 
any time the exact whereabouts of any 
convoy on the road. As a result, much of 
the slack time inherent in the previous ar- 
rangement was eliminated. The British 
favored the change and indeed helped set 
up the required telephone system.'"' 

An outstanding achievement of the 
final phase of the Tunisian campaign was 
the movement in April 1943 of the entire 
U.S. II Corps of more than 100,000 men 
and their equipment from the extreme 
southern flank in Tunisia to the northern 
flank, in preparation for a decisive thrust 
against Bizerte and Tunis. Although the 
movement began with some confusion, it 
was completed in orderly fashion. The 
bulk of the II Corps personnel moved in 
its organic vehicles, but additional trucks 
had to be furnished by the Eastern Base 
Section. In connection with the move- 
ment, the 2638th and 2640th Quarter- 
master Truck Battalions, operating ap- 
proximately 230 2 '/2-ton trucks and trail- 



ers, transported 1,100 tons of ammunition 
from dumps three miles south of Tebessa 
to a new site about twenty-five miles east 
of Tabarka. This mission was accom- 
plished within forty-eight hours, despite 
driving rain and mountain roads with 
steep grades and sharp curves. Accidents 
took the lives of two men, and German 
aircraft strafed some vehicles, causing 
minor damage.'*' 

As the fighting intensified in northern 
Tunisia, the volume of traffic grew too 
heavy for the narrow, mountainous, scenic 
highway between La Calle and Tabarka. 
Since wounded troops were being evac- 
uated over the same road in the opposite 
direction, the trucks often had to pull over 
to the side and stop to permit ambulances 
to pass. In the absence of a rail link be- 
tween La Calle and Tabarka, efforts were 
made to ease the strain on the road by 
using water transportation to bypass it. 
Landing craft were sent from Bone to 
Tabarka, where their cargo was forwarded 
either by rail or truck. This arrangement 
kept the highway available for essential 
traffic. In fact, even after hostilities ended 
in May 1943 and until the port of Bizerte 
could be operated at sufficient capacity to 
support the American troops in Tunisia 
by direct water shipments, the accepted 
pattern was to combine existing water, 
rail, and highway facilities to form a single 
transportation system within the theater. 

Beginning with limited resources in 
equipment and personnel, supplemented 
by locally owned trucks with native driv- 
ers, the Transportation Corps in North 
Africa managed to meet the ever-chang- 
ing demands of the U.S. Army for high- 



■*•■ Hist Red, Trans Sec EBS, 22 Feb-30 Apr 43, p. 
21, OCT HB North Africa. 

^' Ibid., pp. 28-29; To Bizerte With the II Corps, 
p. 4; Kreml Itr and comments cited n. 85. 



168 



THE TRANSPORTATION CORPS 



way transport. The trucks were kept mov- 
ing despite enemy aircraft, hazardous 
mountain roads, heavy rain, thick mud, 
and the frequent necessity of hauling at 
night under blackout conditions. As Gen- 
eral Ross wrote, "When you tell a driver 
'Get these rations to such-and-such a 
place — they've got only enough for break- 
fast,' you know he'll get it there, come hell, 
high water, or Nazis." *** 

Railway Operations 

Although the U.S. Army could not 
have functioned in North Africa without 
motor vehicles, the number was insuffi- 
cient to satisfy all demands for overland 
transport. In this theater as elsewhere all 
available railway facilities had to be uti- 
lized as promptly and fully as possible. The 
main railway, a single-track line during 
most of the war, ran roughly parallel to the 
northern coast of Africa from Casablanca 
via Fes, Oujda, Oran, Algiers, and Con- 
stantine to Tunis, a total of 1 ,410 miles. (See 
Map 3.) The main line was standard 
gauge, but most of the branch lines, in- 
cluding those in Tunisia, were narrow 
(meter) gauge. From Casablanca to Fes 
the main line was electrified, eastward of 
Fes it depended upon steam. Freight ca- 
pacity was estimated at 240 tons of mili- 
tary supplies per day per train, yielding a 
total of 5,760 tons for 12 trains per day 
each way. 

The North African railways operated 
in three distinct nets, conforming in gen- 
eral to the boundaries of French Morocco, 
Algeria, and Tunisia."*'' The Americans 
found these railways undamaged in most 
respects and in normal operating condi- 
tion, but unequal to the wartime traffic. 
The rolling stock, especially the "dinky" 
engines and small hand-braked cars, fell 



far short of American standards. Mainte- 
nance had been neglected, trains were 
slow, and there was a grave shortage of 
motive power.-'" 

Railroading in North Africa was car- 
ried on by a wartime melange of Amer- 
ican, British, and French military person- 
nel, superimposed upon the normal 
peacetime organization of French and 
Arab civilians. In the course of the cam- 
paign U.S. and British railway troops and 
equipment were brought in, and Allied 
railway activities were placed under an 
American director of military railways. 
Most of the participating U.S. troops had 
been railroaders in private life, and the 
previous affiliations of the officers and en- 
listed men read like a roll call of Amer- 
ican railways. In the forward areas the lo- 
comotives were operated by military rail- 
way personnel, assisted by French civilian 
engineers acting as pilots. Elsewhere, na- 
tive civilians ran the trains. Like other 
Americans in the theater, the U.S. rail 
personnel had to contend with language 
difficulties, equipment shortages, and the 
hazards of enemy aircraft and mines. 

Initial Activities 

Preliminary Transportation Corps esti- 
mates of late July 1942 called for one rail- 
way grand division"' and four railway op- 



'*'* The International Teamster, XL, 5 (April 1943), 
13-14. 

""'' Each system was known by the letters CF 
(Chcmin de Fer) to which were added either M, A, 
or T, indicating the Moroccan, Algerian, or Tunisian 
lines. 

'"' Data compiled by Maj R. E. Shincman, Rail Div 
OCT WD, 2 Mar 43; Ltr, Gray to Gross, 28 Feb 43. 
Both in OCT HB North Africa MRS Misc. Cf. Hist, 
Trans Sec ABS, p. 13, OCT HB North Africa. 

'" A railway grand division was a military service 
organization corresponding to the office of the general 
superintendent on an American railroad. 



NORTH AFRICA 



169 



crating battalions in the initial North 
African contingent, and a reserve of two 
railway operating battalions and one rail- 
way shop battalion."- The first military 
railway unit to reach the theater was the 
761st Railway Transportation Company 
(less one detachment), which after a short 
training period in England, was sent to 
North Africa, debarking at Mers el Kebir 
on 11 November 1942. Among its first 
tasks were the operation of the railway 
yards at Oran; the setting up of RTO's 
from Oujda to Algiers; and the assign- 
ment of railway men as guards, who could 
also serve as crews if need be, to U.S. 
Army supply trains moving east from 
Oran.^^ 

An advance echelon of twelve officers 
and enlisted men of the 703d Railway 
Grand Division, under the command of 
Colonel Burpee, landed at Casablanca on 
18 November. Members of this group at 
once began work with the French railway 
officials to move American troops and 
their organic equipment from the D-plus- 
5 convoy. In the eff^ort to furnish all 
needed transportation, Burpee's stafThad 
the good fortune to find an American vet- 
eran of World War I who was familiar 
with the local rail situation and could 
serve as an interpreter.''^ 

Throughout the North African cam- 
paign the Americans were to exercise 
purely supervisory control over French 
railway operations, and their success was 
dependent upon winning the support and 
co-operation of the local railway officials 
so as to expedite the movement of U.S. 
Army personnel and freight. The French 
generally co-operated well until the war 
ended, after which the restoration of nor- 
mal railway service became their para- 
mount interest. Apart from the language 
problem and certain French railway prac- 



tices that the Americans found time con- 
suming,'" the principal obstacle was a 
severe shortage of manpower and rolling 
stock that had to be overcome by the em- 
ployment of U.S. and British railway 
troops and equipment.'"' At first, British 
railway operating troops functioned east- 
ward from Orleansville, leaving railway 
activity west of that city under American 
control. 

At AFHQ during the early months of 
the campaign, U.S. Army rail activities 
were under the supervision of an experi- 
enced American railroader, the theater 
deputy chief of transportation. Colonel 
Fuller. During the early part of the cam- 
paign, at nine each night he and his Brit- 
ish counterpart held a Priority of Move- 
ments meeting,"' at which the current de- 
mands for military transportation were 



"- Memo, Lt Col D. E. Brisbine, Rail Div OCT, to 
Col Coe, 28 Jul 42, sub: Troops Needed to Operate 
Rys . . ., OCT HB North Africa MRS Misc. Later, 
additional railway units had to be sent to help the 
French. Sec Rads, NATOUSA and WD, 25 Jan 43, 
CMTN 11277, and 18 Jan 43, CM-OUT 6558, 
OCT 319.2-321.03 Africa 1943. 

"' Hist Red, 761st Ry Trans Co, 28 Jul 42-Apr 43, 
OCT HB North Africa Ry Units. 

■'^ Hist, Trans Sec ABS, pp. 13-14, OCT HB North 
Africa. 

'" Many hours were lost because the French sched- 
ules, called "paths," were based upon the meeting and 
passing of trains at certain points, a somewhat inflexi- 
ble system usually attended by delay that on occasion 
exceeded the actual running time between stations; 
and because the French were very slow in effecting 
shop repairs, particularly with regard to locomotives. 
Ltr. Gray to Gross, 28 Feb 43, OCT HB North Africa 
MRS Misc. 

^'^ For an over-all survey from the American point 
of view, see Rpt. DG MRS AFHQ, 30 Nov 43, sub: 
Chronological Statement of North African Ry Opn, 
OCT HB North Africa MRS Misc. On the British 
effort, see Notes on the African Campaign, Nov 42- 
May 43, compiled by Trans (British) Sec AFHQ, 
Jun 43, in 2 pts., (1) Railway Operating and Work- 
shops and (2) Railway Construction and Repair, OCT 
HB North Africa MRS Gen Rpt. 

'*' Subsequently (1943) POM changed from a daily 
to a weekly meeting. 



170 



THE TRANSPORTATION CORPS 



weighed and the priorities estabhshed for 
all types of movement within the theater, 
including shipments by rail for the U.S. 
Army. On the following day Fuller or one 
of his staff officers conferred with repre- 
sentatives of the British Army and the 
French Army,''- and with key officials of 
the French railways, in order to regulate 
and co-ordinate this traffic and apportion 
rolling stock to meet the most essential 
needs of the Americans, the British, and 
the French. Thrice weekly an Allied Rail- 
way Commission, of which Fuller also was 
a member, met to thrash out the larger 
problems not solved at these daily 
meetings. 

A rail section was formally organized at 
the Office of the U.S. Chief of Transporta- 
tion, AFHQj in January 1943. Among 
other things, the section prepared the rail 
movements schedules for U.S. Army per- 
sonnel and freight, maintained liaison 
with the British and French regarding 
such movements, and furnished informa- 
tion to the American base sections on 
movement priorities. It worked closely 
with the Military Railway Service after 
that organization began functioning in 
North Africa.-'-' 

Although Fuller and his associates had 
proved valiant pioneers, by the beginning 
of 1943 it had become evident that greater 
co-ordination and closer supervision of 
American operations on the French rail- 
ways in North Africa could be achieved 
only by setting up a special military rail- 
way organization to function on a theater- 
wide basis. The eastward advance of the 
Allied forces had greatly lengthened the 
supply line, increasing the burden laid on 
the railways. As yet comparatively few 
U.S. military railway personnel had 
reached North Africa, and because of the 
extensive area to be supervised, their 



efforts were spread thin. Apart from the 
Advance Echelon, 703d Railway Grand 
Division, and the 761st Railway Trans- 
portation Company, only two other 
Transportation Corps railway units 
reached the theater before the end of 

1942. They were the 753d Railway Shop 
Battalion, which worked primarily in the 
French railway shops at Sidi Mabrouk; 
and the 727th Railway Operating Battal- 
ion, which was soon to begin operating 
the meter-gauge line from Ouled Rah- 
moun to Tebessa, virtually within the 
combat zone. No other U.S. railway units 
became available until late February 

1943, when the remainder of the 703d 
Railway Grand Division, the 713th Rail- 
way Operating Battalion, and Company 
C of the 753d Railway Shop Battalion 
arrived. ""'^' 



The Establishment of a Military 
Railway Service 

Since as a civilian his forte had been 
railway traffic rather than operations, 
Colonel Fuller felt the need of an experi- 
enced operating man who could supervise 
all U.S. Aj-my rail transportation in North 
Africa and assure the maximum utiliza- 
tion of the French railways. The day after 



■'^ Wartime control of the railways was vested in the 
French Army under Col. E. Quenard, Director of 
Military Transports in North Africa. 

' ' Hist Red, OCT AFHQ NATOUSA, activation 
to 31 Oct 43, Sec. II, par. 1-6, and Hist Red, Adv 
Ech Hq MRS North Africa, 27 Jan-30 Apr 43, pp. 
3-4, OCT HB North Africa; Interv with Col Fuller, 
28 Jul 50, OCT HB MRS Misc. 

'"" Hist Red, OCT AFHQ NATOUSA, activation 
to 31 Oct 43, Tab V, OCT HB North Africa; DC 
MRS AFHQrpt cited n. 96, pp. 1-3, Exhibits A, C, 
D, H, I. See also Hist, 713th Ry Operating Bn, 25 
Apr 42-15 May 43, and Hist Red, 703d Ry Grand 
Div, 26 Jul 43, OCT HB North Africa Ry Units. 



NORTH AFRICA 



171 



the Casablanca Conference closed, the 
matter was taken up by General Somer- 
\ell with the theater G-4, General Ham- 
blen, the theater chief of transportation. 
Colonel Ross, and the latter's deputy. 
Colonel Fuller. Somervell recommended 
General Gray, and a request for him was 
immediately dispatched to Washington. 
An experienced and aggressive railway 
executive, Gray was then stationed at St. 
Paul, Minnesota, serving as general man- 
ager of the Military Railway Service, 
which had been transferred from the 
Corps of Engineers to the Transportation 
Corps in mid-November 1942. 

General Gray and a small advance 
party left the United States by air, land- 
ing at Algiers on 9 February 1943. Five 
days later the AFHQ commander for- 
mally assigned Gray as director general of 
Military Railways in North Africa, and 
placed all U.S. and British military rail- 
way personnel at his disposal. Serving in 
an Allied capacity, he reported directly to 
the Chief Administrative Officer, AFHQ, 
and for certain functions he was also re- 
sponsible to the deputy theater com- 
mander,"" but he was virtually independ- 
ent of the U.S. theater chief of 
transportation. This arrangement was not 
in accord with the more orthodox view of 
General Gross that the theater chief of 
transportation should control and super- 
vise rail as well as port and highway op- 
erations. However unorthodox Gray's 
position might appear, the results were 
good — in large measure because Colonel 
Stewart recognized the energy and ability 
of General Gray and was glad to let him 
run the railways.'"- 

General Gray established his Military 
Railway Service headquarters at Algiers. 
There, the British director of transporta- 
tion. Brigadier R. F. O'Dowd Gage, was 



appointed as his deputy, a combined stall 
was set up, and the operation of various 
routes was assigned to U.S. or British 
units. The British considered the decision 
to place Allied railway operations under 
American command inconvenient, since 
they believed that it entailed a loss of 
British responsibility for railway policy on 
their lines of communication, but they ac- 
cepted it loyally. Although differences in 
methods and organization inevitably 
caused some difficulties, on the whole the 
arrangement worked well. Liaison was 
close, many firm friendships developed 
between U.S. and British officers, and 
Gray found Brigadier Gage most co-oper- 
ative. 

Although Gray had no direct command 
authority over the French Military Rail- 
way Service, a small organization with 
only six companies of construction troops, 
by AFHQ directive his recommendations 
were to be the basis for negotiations con- 
ducted by the Allied chief administrative 
officer with the French authorities regard- 
ing the extent to which railway develop- 
ment and operation would be effected 
through the medium of the French Mili- 
tary Railway Service, or by U.S. or Brit- 
ish military railway personnel. In prac- 
tice, the French recognized Gray's 
responsibility for the direction of all mili- 
tary railway activities, and their military 
units were placed at his disposal in much 



"" Specifically, Gray was responsible to the deputy 
theater commander for the development and opera- 
tion of railway facilities within the U.S. communica- 
tions zone, and for the well being and morale of U.S. 
militar\ railway troops. 

'"- Intcrv with Col Fuller, 15 Jun and 28 Jul 50. 
OCT HB MRS Misc. On Gray's assignment, see Rad, 
Eisenhower to AGWAR, 26 jan 43, CM-IN 12178, 
OCT HB North Africa MRS Misc: GO 19. AFHQ., 
14 Feb 43; and Hist Red, Adv Ech Hq MRS Xorth 
Africa, 27 Jan-30 Apr 43. pp. 1-3, OCT HB North 
Africa. 



172 



THE TRANSPORTATION CORPS 



the same manner as the American and 
British troops.'"' 

Basically, General Gray depended upon 
French civilians to run the railways, since 
sufficient Allied trained military person- 
nel were lacking for complete MRS oper- 
ation. In accordance with AFHQ policy, 
he sought to assist the French to move the 
maximum Allied tonnage by supplement- 
ing their Hmited resources in manpower 
and equipment. Indeed, before Gray 
reached North Africa, the theater chief of 
transportation had advised that American 
personnel and rolling stock must be pro- 
cured to prevent a breakdown of rail- 
ways.'"' Although the French co-operated 
fully, civilian operation was not deemed 
desirable in the combat zone, and in other 
areas in the interest of efficiency the 
Americans had to supplement the French 
train and repair crews. Rolling stock, 
already in poor condition, was to suffer 
increasingly from enemy action as the 
campaign turned eastward. 

At the time of Gray's arrival, American 
rail units in the theater or en route con- 
sisted of the advance echelon of the MRS 
headquarters, the railway grand division, 
two railway operating battalions, a rail- 
way shop battalion, and a separate trans- 
portation company. After conferring with 
the deputy theater commander and the 
AFHQ Movements and Transportation 
Section staff, he requested additional U.S. 
railway units to meet his anticipated re- 
quirements. These units, consisting of the 
rear echelon of MRS headquarters, two 
railway grand divisions (the 701st and 
704th), and three railway operating bat- 
talions (715th, 719th, and 759th) landed 
in North Africa on 1 1 May 1943.'"' 

Additional railway equipment had 
been requisitioned by the Americans and 



the British before Gray's arrival. Because 
damage was less than expected, the origi- 
nal requirement of 250 standard-gauge 
2-8-0 locomotives, 175 meter-gauge 2-8-2 
Mikado locomotives, and approximately 
5,000 cars was later reduced by the Di- 
rector General, MRS, to 105 2-8-0 and 60 
2-8-2 locomotives and to 1,500 cars. 
American-built rolling stock began arriv- 
ing early in 1943. Railway cars were 
erected and 2-8-0 standard-gauge loco- 
motives were unloaded and serviced at 
Oran by personnel from the 753d Rail- 
way Shop Battalion. Part of the 753d had 
already been assigned to the modern 
French railway shops in Sidi Mabrouk, 
where the chief task was to erect meter- 
gauge locomotives urgently needed on the 
Ouled Rahmoun-Tebessa line. The first 
two meter-gauge locomotives were un- 
loaded at Oran in mid-March 1943. They 
were unassembled and each consisted of 
fourteen packages, which were shipped to 
Sidi Mabrouk for assembly. Within ten 
days both locomotives were ready for 
service.'"*^ 

Although existing U.S. Army regula- 
tions assigned responsibility for extraor- 



•«' DG MRS AFHQ rpt cited n. 96, pp. 2-3 and 
Exhibit E; Ltr and Comments, Gray to Maj Gen 
Orlando Ward, Chief Mil Hist, 18 Jul 52, OCMH 
Files. For the British point of view, see Brigadier R. 
Miklem (ed.), Transportation ("History of the Second 
World War, 1939-1945, Army") (London: His 
Majesty's Stationery Office, 1950), p. 103. 

'"' Memo, Actg Chief Rail Div to CofT WD, 26 
Jan 43, sub: Action . . ., with Incl, Msgs 6834 and 
1233, OCT 319.1-321.03 Africa 1943. 

'" ' All of the additional units disembarked at Oran. 
Sec DG MRS AFHQ rpt cited n. 96, pp. 2-4; Hist 
Red, Adv Ech Hq MRS North Africa, 27 Jan-30 Apr 
43, pp. 2-3, OCT HB North Africa. 

'"" Hist Red, Adv Ech Hq MRS North Africa 27 
Jan-30 Apr 43, pp. 5, 6, and Supplement 1, OCT HB 
North Africa. For technical details, see Hist, 753d Rv 
Shoj) Bn, activation to 30 Apr 43, pp. 13-17, 22-24, 
OC'F HB North Africa Ry Units. 



NORTH AFRICA 



173 



dinary repairs and reconstruction of mili- 
tary railways to the Corps of Engineers, 
the MRS in North Africa engaged in 
these activities from the outset.'"' This 
came about in part because of the interna- 
tional and theater-wide nature of the 
MRS command, and in part because of 
the availability of MRS personnel for con- 
struction purposes. The British Transpor- 
tation Service troops placed at Gray's dis- 
posal included personnel for railway con- 
struction, a function assigned to that 
service in the British Army. Also, the fairly 
satisfactory maintenance conditions on 
the North African railroads made it possi- 
ble to use the A (maintenance of way) 
companies of the American railway oper- 
ating battalions for construction and 
rehabilitation work. 

Military construction troops undertook 
three main types of railroad work in North 
Africa — depot track work, involving such 
projects as the construction of depot lay- 
outs and the extension of sidings; rehabili- 
tation of captured lines in the combat 
zone; and, at the end of hostilities, con- 
struction of a more permanent nature. 
Depot track work in the Atlantic and 
Mediterranean Base Sections was per- 
formed by U.S. Engineer troops, while 
similar construction from Algiers eastward 
to the combat zone was performed by 
American and British troops of the MRS. 

The delineation of responsibility for re- 
pair and rehabilitation of rail lines in the 
combat zone was at first less clear. After 
establishing his headquarters at Algiers, 
Gray set up an advance headquarters at 
Constantine under Col. E. L. Parkes 
(British) to handle construction planning, 
and to maintain liaison with the French 
Military Railway Service, French civilian 
railway officials, the group commander in 



the combat zone, and U.S. base section 
and British line of communications com- 
manders. Shortly after the enemy break- 
through at Kasserine had been repulsed, 
confusion arose among the MRS, the U.S. 
II Corps engineers, and the French Mili- 
tary Railway Service as to which agency 
should be responsible for the work in the 
area evacuated by the enemy. The situa- 
tion was clarified, first by verbal order and 
then, on 10 April 1943, by AFHQdirec- 
tive. The Director General, MRS, was 
specifically assigned responsibility for 
planning and effecting the construction, 
maintenance, and repair of military rail- 
ways in both the communications and 
combat zones. Provision was made for the 
director general to call on the tactical 
commander in the combat zone, and on 
AFHQ and the SOS commander in the 
communications zone, for additional as- 
sistance when insufficient resources were at 
his disposal. The same directive gave Gray 
the responsibility for planning, requisi- 
tioning, stocking, and issuing all railway 
equipment and materials. These responsi- 
bilities were to remain part of the MRS 
mission during subsequent operations in 
Sicily, Italy, and southern France.'"^ 

Rail Operations Under the MRS 

When General Gray's MRS became ac- 
tive, the North African campaign was 
nearing its crucial stage. In order to ex- 
pedite the movement of supplies in sup- 
port of the combat forces, he assigned the 



'«-' See AR 55-650, 27 Feb 43, par. 4; Cf. Wardlow, 
Responsibilities, Organization, and Operations, pp. 62-65. 

'"'' Rpt, MRS, Railway Construction and Repair. 
North African Campaign. 1 Aug 43, pp. 1-4, and Ex- 
hibit 2. OCT HB North Africa Ry Construction and 
Repair. 



174 



THE TRANSPORTATION CORPS 



bulk of the available U.S. railway units to 
operations in the forward area.'"-' Early in 
March 1943 the 703d Railway Grand 
Division, the main body of which had 
recently disembarked at Mers el Kebir, 
moved to Constantine and assumed juris- 
diction of the CFA (Chemins de Fer 
Algeriens) lines extending from Beni 
Mansour to Souk Ahras, from Philippe- 
ville to Le Kroub, from Ouled Rahmoun 
to Tebessa, and from Oued Kebrit to 
Tebessa. Assigned to the 703d were the 
727th Railway Operating Battalion, 
which had already begun operations on 
the overtaxed Ouled Rahmoun-Tebessa 
line during the previous month, and the 
newly arrived 713th Railway Operating 
Battalion, which was given jurisdiction of 
the lines from Beni Mansour through 
Constantine to Philippeville. As already 
stated the 753d Railway Shop Battalion 
(less Company C) was placed on duty at 
the CFA shops at Sidi Mabrouk.'"' 

Stationed farthest forward, the 727th 
Railway Operating Battalion, com- 
manded by Lt. Col. Fred W. Okie, had 
begun its operations under serious handi- 
caps. The locomotives on the meter-gauge 
line from Ouled Rahmoun to Tebessa 
were often junk heaps, and many had no 
brakes. Tools and materials for repair 
were in short supply, and the unit at first 
lacked even a red lantern. 

From the outset the 727th operated un- 
comfortably close to the enemy. On 14 
February, when the loss of Gafsa appeared 
imminent, Colonel Okie, aided by a small 
detachment of the 727th and three trucks, 
attempted to evacuate highly essential 
railway rolling stock and war material. 
Despite strafing, four of the imperiled 
locomotives were removed, but the re- 
maining engines and sixteen cars of am- 
munition were caught behind a blown-out 



bridge at Sidi Bou Baker on the rail line to 
Thelepte. The detachment had just suc- 
ceeded in concealing eight locomotives in 
a mine tunnel near Moulares and im- 
mobilizing them by removing vital parts, 
when the approach of an enemy tank 
caused Okie hastily to load his men and 
engine parts on trucks and leave for 
Redeyef En route, the party was fired 
upon by native troops but avoided further 
attack by waving a French flag. After 
picking up twenty-six French civilians 
and their baggage at Redeyef, the Ameri- 
cans set out across the desert via Tamerza 
to Bir el Ater, walking and pushing the 
trucks for several miles through deep 
sand. The detachment finally reached the 
road running north into Tebessa, arriving 
there on 16 February with gas tanks prac- 
tically empty. "^ 

On 17 February when the Thelepte air- 
field was abandoned, another detachment 
of the 727th, under 1st Lt. Victor E. 
Williams, removed all rail equipment in 
this vicinity. This movement came under 
enemy fire, and several cars of equipment 
were destroyed. Shortly thereafter, when 
Rommel's forces broke through the Kas- 
serine pass, the battalion made ready for 
the possible evacuation of Tebessa itself 
However, by the morning of 25 February 
1943 the enemy had retreated, leaving 



^"^ Exceptions were the 761st Railway Transporta- 
tion Company and part of the 753d Railway Shop 
Battalion, both of which remained in the Oran area, 
and a provisional railway grand division head- 
quarters, which was organized at Casablanca to 
handle liaison and expedite military movements over 
the lines of the Chemin de Fer Maroc west of Oujda, 
French Morocco. 

>'" Hist Red, Adv Echelon MRS, 27 Jan 43-30 Apr 
43, pp. 4-6, OCT HB North Africa. 

'■' Hist Red, 7'27th Ry Operating Bn, 15 Feb 42- 
Apr 43, p. 21 and Exhibits 2-4, OCT HB North 
Africa Ry Units; Ltr, Gray to Gross, 28 Feb 43, OCT 
HB North Africa MRS Mise; Ltr, Okie to Larson, 22 
Aug 50, OCT HB Inquiries. 



NORTH AFRICA 



175 



behind numerous deadly mines and sev- 
eral badly damaged bridges. Railway re- 
pair and reconstruction progressed rapidly 
in the recaptured area, and within fifteen 
days after the German withdrawal the 
line was open to Kasserine."-' 

Altogether, these were difficult days for 
the newly arrived MRS, especially in the 
war-torn area around Tebessa. There 
train operations were frequently inter- 
rupted, considerable damage was done to 
railway equipment and facilities, many 
bridges were demolished, and approxi- 
mately 16 locomotives were lost to the 
enemy. On 27 February 1943, when the 
crisis had passed, 50 of the 70 engines the 
MRS had at Tebessa were definitely in 
bad order and only 10 of the remaining 20 
were operational. More rolling stock was 
needed immediately. During March 2-8-2 
meter-gauge locomotives began coming 
off the assembly line at Sidi Mabrouk, 
thereby helping to relieve the serious 
shortage of motive power on the Ouled 
Rahmoun-Tebessa line. The main facili- 
ties for servicing incoming 2-8-0 standard- 
gauge locomotives were located at Oran. 
The port was also the center for assem- 
bling various types of railway cars, 
shipped knocked-down so as to conserve 
shipping space. "^ By April 1943 MRS 
personnel at Oran had placed in service 
38 standard-gauge locomotives and had 
assembled 233 railway cars. With this 
added equipment. Gray was confident of 
the success of his mission.'" 

Eastbound rail traffic continued heavy 
as the North African campaign drew to a 
close. Constantine, Ouled Rahmoun, and 
Tebessa were especially busy points. Dur- 
ing the seven days ending 21 April 1943, 
the MRS ran thirty trains between Ouled 
Rahmoun and Tebessa, and in the follow- 
ing week as many as forty-eight trains 



were operated daily through Constan- 
tine.'" 

In contrast to the comparatively minor 
destruction inflicted elsewhere in the thea- 
ter, the rail lines to the south and east of 
Tebessa in the Kasserine-Sousse area were 
heavily damaged by enemy demolition 
and Allied air bombing. After the Ger- 
mans had been forced out of the Kasserine 
area in late February 1943, the 18 Army 
Group commander ordered the rehabilita- 
tion of the Hai'dra-Kasserine-Sbeitla- 
Thelepte line. Because of the differences 
in directives issued by the individual 
armies concerned, 18 Army Group issued 
its directive jointly with those of the U.S. 
II Corps and the MRS advance head- 
quarters. As a consequence, both the II 
Corps engineers and the MRS began 
planning for the necessary rehabilitation. 
At the same time the French Military 
Railway Service, which believed it had 
the sole responsibility, also undertook to 
plan the work. As previously noted, all 
three services engaged in the project, with 
resultant confusion and some delay. 

To avoid a repetition of this experience, 
the 18 Army Group stafTmade verbal ar- 



"- Hist Red, 727th Ry Operating Bn, 15 Feb 42- 
Apr 43, Exhibit 3, OCT HB North Africa Ry Units; 
Okie hr cited n. 111. 

" ' The assembly work at Oran was done by Com- 
pany C, 753d Railway Shop Battalion. This unit also 
converted 20-ton and 40-ton boxcars into refrigerator 
cars, which brought fresh meat and vegetables, a 
welcome relief from C rations, to the Army chow lines. 
See Hist, Co C 753d Ry Shop Bn, 21 Nov 42-30 Apr 
43, May 43, OCT HB North Africa Ry Units; and un- 
signed article, "Army Railroaders Build Reefers in 
North Africa," Railway Age, CXV, 13 (September 25, 
1943), 481-82. 

"^ Ltrs, Gray to Gross, 28 Feb, 5 Mar, 7 Apr 43, 
OCT HB North Africa MRS Misc. 

"'• Memo, DC MRS AFHQto Dep Theater Comdr 
NATOUSA. 25 Apr 43, sub: Performance Week End- 
ing 21 Apr 43, OCT 453.3 Africa; Memo, same to 
same, sub: MRS Performance 22-28 Apr 43, OCT 
HB North Africa. 



176 



THE TRANSPORTATION CORPS 



rangements for the MRS to assume re- 
sponsibility for the planning, co-ordina- 
tion, and performance of railroad repairs 
in the combat zone. The next job, the re- 
pair of the line running eastward from 
Sbeitla to Sousse, was completed expedi- 
tiously under MRS guidance by U.S. and 
British MRS units, U.S. Engineer troops, 
French MRS units, and civilians. 

Following the formal assignment of the 
railway construction and rehabilitation 
functions to the director general on 10 
April 1943, no further administrative dif- 
ficulties were encountered. In the final 
phase of the campaign, the rapid Allied 
advance across northern Tunisia offered 
little opportunity for either friendly or 
enemy destruction, and it was possible to 
place rail lines in that area in operation 
with only light repairs. Basing his plans on 
priorities established by the 18 Army 
Group, Gray assigned responsibility for 
individual lines to advanced U.S. and 
British MRS units, and to the French 
MRS. An important exception to this ar- 
rangement came when a newly captured 
segment of the line running from the port 
of Tabarka to Mateur was used to carry 
supplies forward to the U.S. II Corps. In 
order to place the line in service as rapidly 
as possible, the Eastern Base Section 
rushed in Engineer troops who repaired 
the line from Tabarka to Nefza. Me- 
chanics of the 753d Railway Shop Bat- 
talion moved in and repaired the one 
available but decrepit locomotive at 
Tabarka, and on 4 May, one day after the 
Americans entered Mateur, the first train 
was dispatched from Tabarka with 13 
loads, 145 net tons, aboard. The remain- 
der of the line from Nefza to Mateur was 
later repaired by Allied MRS troops."" 

Although damage to rail facilities was 
generally light, operations in the forward 



areas were hindered by mines placed 
along the right of way by the retreating 
Axis forces. Neither the British nor the 
American railway troops were at first ade- 
quately trained to deal with such hazards. 
Track mines usually were detected by em- 
ploying a locomotive to push several cars 
loaded with rock to take the brunt of any 
exploding mines. ' ' ' 

As the Allies advanced deeper into 
Tunisia and the supply line lengthened, 
prompt turnaround of rolling stock be- 
came increasingly necessary. Constant 
pressure had to be exerted to speed up the 
discharge of cars and expedite the return 
of empties from the east. During April 
1943 an average of more than 150 car- 
loads of supplies had to be delivered each 
day to the forward railheads. ""^ At the 
peak of activity on the Algerian and 
Tunisian railways in the period 13 April- 
12 May 1943, Allied freight traflic, based 
on a total mileage of 1 ,905 for all sections, 
totaled 31,554,660 ton-miles.'^-' 

The relations of MRS with the three 
major railway systems varied consider- 
ably. Over the Moroccan railways (CFM) 
the MRS control was almost entirely 
supervisory. Excellent co-operation was 
received from the French railway person- 
nel, but the trains were slow and delays 
frequent. The only substantial aid given 



'"^MRS rpt cited n. 108, pp. 1-5; Ltr, Gray to 
Gross, 6 May 43, OCT HB North Africa MRS Misc. 
Axis forces surrendered before the entire Tabarka- 
Mateur line could be opened, and it therefore had 
only limited value for the campaign. See Hist, 753d 
Ry Shop Bn, May 1943, OCT HB North Africa Ry 
Units. 

"■ Hist Red, Adv Ech Hq MRS North Africa, 27 
Jan 30 Apr 43, Supplement 2, OCT HB North 
Africa. 

"" Hist Red, OCT AFHQ., activation to 31 Oct 43, 
Sec. Ill, pars. 14-23, OCT HB North Africa. 

' '■' Figures are in long tons per mile. Sec Hist Red, 
Adv Ech Hq MRS North Africa, 27 Jan-30 Apr 43, 
Exhibit 60, OCT HB North Africa. 



NORTH AFRICA 



177 



the CFM by the Transportation Corps was 
fifteen 2-8-0 standard-gauge steam loco- 
motives, which were needed because of in- 
sufficient electric power. The CFM natu- 
rally became less significant as the Allies 
advanced eastward. It served as insurance, 
however, for had the Strait of Gibraltar 
been closed by enemy action it would 
have become a vital line of communica- 
tions from Casablanca to the Mediter- 
ranean. 

The Algerian railways (the CFA) car- 
ried the largest amount of Allied military 
tonnage and were given the most assist- 
ance by the MRS. Co-operation on the 
CFA was good until the end of the fight- 
ing, when the French railway personnel 
evidenced a stronger desire to run the 
lines in their own way. Here as elsewhere 
on the North African railways, the Di- 
rector General, MRS, was not satisfied 
with the French methods of operating 
trains and of maintaining and repairing 
equipment. He believed that the MRS, if 
given full control, could have done a 
much better job, but he had no authority 
over the civilian railway personnel. Re- 
gardless of the urgency, he had to request, 
he could not order. Yet he had to bring in 
MRS troops and equipment that in the 
aggregate accounted for an estimated 70 
percent of the transportation capacity of 
the CFA. 

The Tunisian system (the CFT) re- 
ceived the least supervision from the MRS 
because it was the longest in enemy hands. 
Because of wartime destruction, the Tu- 
nisian lines required the most reconstruc- 
tion. Motive power and rolling stock were 
found in deplorable condition. The CFT 
management was resourceful, but the sys- 
tem suffered from the same procrastina- 
tion and delay previously encountered in 
Morocco and Algeria. As General Gray 



remarked, it was the irony of fate that the 
battered Tunisian rail lines were to be- 
come all-important for subsequent cam- 
paigns in Sicily and Italy.'-" 

Following the surrender of the Axis 
forces in North Africa in May 1943, all re- 
maining lines in Tunisia not previously 
placed in service by the Allies were swiftly 
readied for temporary operation. The first 
train entered Tunis on 13 May. Plans were 
made jointly by the MRS, the French 
Military Railway Service, and civilian 
railway officials for more permanent re- 
pair work on the Tunisian lines. Recon- 
struction areas were assigned to Ameri- 
cans, the British, and the French, and 
work was begun with a scheduled comple- 
tion date of September 1943.^-' 

The end of hostilities in North Africa 
altered the transportation pattern of heavy 
movements of men and materials from 
west to east. Thereafter a two-way flow of 
traffic developed, as men and materiel 
were moved both into and out of Tunisia. 
The inbound traffic was largely in prep- 
aration for the projected invasion of Sicily 
and Italy. Already in progress but much 
accelerated by the Axis surrender, the 
outbound movement involved mostly 
personnel.'- ' 

Evacuation of Patients and Enemy 
Prisoners of War 

Aside from the U.S. Army combat and 
service units moved out of North Africa 
for the Sicihan and Italian campaigns,'-' 

'-" See DG MRS AFHQ rpt cited n. 96, especially 
pp. 5-10. 

1-' MRS rpt cited n. 108, pp. 6-7. 

^--' Some cargo was shipped to the zone of interior. 
Never voluminous, it consisted chiefly of captured 
enemy equipment and scrap, the latter being useful as 
ballast for returning vessels. 

'-' After its liberation. North Africa became a huge 
assembly area for subsequent assaults in the Medi- 
terranean. See below, Ch. V. 



178 



THE TRANSPORTATION CORPS 



there were two main groups of outbound 
personnel. The first group, which had 
been accruing since the invasion began, 
was the sick and wounded. The second 
group comprised the Axis prisoners of war, 
who ultimately became so numerous and 
burdensome that mass removal from the 
theater provided the only solution. Both 
groups posed special problems for the 
Transportation Corps. 

The Sick and Wounded 

Because the landings were relatively 
unopposed, the initial American casual- 
ties were light, and several months elapsed 
before the removal of patients became a 
major undertaking. Within the combat 
area, cross-country ambulances provided 
the chief means of transportation for cas- 
ualties, and jeeps were convenient on 
narrow mountain roads, though not com- 
fortable. Weapons carriers and 2V2-ton 
trucks also were used for ambulatory 
patients but only in an emergency for 
litter cases. In a few instances the slow but 
sturdy mule was used for movements over 
the rugged terrain of Tunisia. Air evacua- 
tion, which was faster and more comfort- 
able, proved increasingly valuable and in 
fact became indispensable during the final 
offensive in Tunisia, but the bulk of the re- 
movals to hospitals and ports was made on 
hospital trains. Their movements were 
controlled by the G-4, AFHQ, which set 
priorities to meet the needs of the Ameri- 
can, British, and French forces.'-' 

No U.S. Army hospital ship was avail- 
able in North Africa until June 1943, 
when the Acadia lifted the first load of 778 
U.S. Army and Navy patients from Oran 
to the United States.'-' Although British 
hospital ships were of some assistance, re- 
turning troopships provided the principal 



means of evacuating sick and wounded 
during the first eight months of the cam- 
paign. The number so evacuated was lim- 
ited. Until liberalized in late February 
1943, theater policy restricted this method 
to patients mentally and physically capa- 
ble of caring for themselves in the event of 
disaster at sea. Even after patients of all 
types were permitted to be removed on 
transports, the ship's facilities had to be 
adequate but generally were far from the 
best. Most troop carriers were routed to 
Casablanca, and at that port transporta- 
tion difficulties and movement restrictions 
minimized the number of patients that 
could be evacuated from the Mediter- 
ranean and Eastern Base Sections. Until 
early 1944 the theater consistently suffered 
from a lack of advance information on the 
number of patients of each class who 
could be evacuated aboard incoming 
vessels. Meanwhile, beginning in May 
1943, an easing of the theater movement 
policy combined with improved rail facili- 
ties and an additional medical hospital 
ship platoon, greatly increased the num- 
ber of patients that could be evacuated to 
the zone of interior. As a result, a total of 
1 1,434 patients was evacuated by troop- 
ship in the last half of 1943, as compared 
with the 4,850 evacuated during the first 
half of that year.^-'' 

'-' Logistical History of NATOUSA-MTOUSA, pp. 
304-08, 321-23; Memo, DG MRS to CofT WD, 28 
May 43, sub: Hosp Trains, AG 531 Africa (May 28, 
1943) Hosp Trains; Ltr, Gray to Wylic, 1 1 Oct 43, 
OCT 353-370.05 Africa 1943. 

'-' Before being registered as a hospital ship, and 
therefore protected by the Geneva Convention, the 
Acadia had completed several voyages (December 
1942- April 1943) as an ambulance transport, carry- 
ing troops to the theater and evacuating patients. On 
the Acadia, see OCT HB Monograph 7, pp. 22-29. 

'-" Logistical History of NATOUSA-MTOUSA, pp. 
312, 316-17, 321-23; Hq MTO, Annual Rpt, 1943, 
Med Sec NATOUSA, SGO HD 319.1-3 (Mediterra- 



NORTH AFRICA 



179 



The evacuation by train and ship of 
American sick and wounded overseas was 
handled jointly by the Medical Depart- 
ment and the Transportation Corps, the 
former furnishing the required medical 
personnel, supplies, and facilities, and the 
latter providing the necessary transporta- 
tion by land and water. To facilitate the 
work of these agencies, on 16 September 
1942 U. S. Army commanders of oversea 
theaters and bases were directed to sub- 
mit, through their respective U.S. supply 
ports, certain essential information: (1) a 
monthly report indicating the number of 
patients actually awaiting evacuation 
from overseas, and the number of addi- 
tional patients expected within the next 
thirty days, and (2) a special report on the 
sailing of any vessel with patients being 
evacuated to the continental United 
States.'-' In North Africa there was some 
lag in setting up this system. 

At first, casualties from the Center and 
Eastern Task Forces were to be evacuated 
to the United Kingdom aboard British 
carriers, but in the absence of regular U.S. 
Army hospital ships the patients from the 
Western Task Force were to be sent to the 
States on returning troop transports. By 
late November 1942, a total of 115 casual- 
ties from the latter group had been re- 
ceived at Hampton Roads, the very port 
from which they had only recently em- 
barked.'-^ 

Manifestly, from the Transportation 
Corps point of view, the most difficult 
problem in the evacuation process was to 
develop adequate land and water trans- 
port. The eleven hospital trains employed 
within the North African theater were im- 
provised from French railway coaches and 
boxcars, which had been made as comfort- 
able as possible. The movement of casual- 
ties by rail was especially heavy in April 



1943 and reached a peak in May, when 
the fighting ceased.'-" As patients await- 
ing evacuation from the theater began to 
accumulate, the demand increased for 
additional hospital ship space. The need 
had been foreseen by General Eisenhower 
before the invasion of North Africa, but 
the world-wide shortage of ships was so 
acute that only the makeshift accom- 
modations aboard the troop transports 
were available.'^" Only three U.S. Army 
hospital ships, the Acadia, the Seminole, and 
the Shamrock, arrived in the theater during 
1943. Altogether in that year, a total of 
3,593 patients departed for the United 
States via hospital ship as compared with 
a total of 16,284 patients evacuated by 
troop transports.' ■' 

The evacuation of patients continued 
long after the fighting had ended in North 
Africa, the process in general being com- 
plicated by limited rail and water trans- 
portation. Except for the registered hos- 
pital ships the accommodations at sea 
were far from perfect, although every 
effort was exerted to furnish the maximum 
in comfort and care. 



'-' AG Ltr, 16 Sep 42, sub: Essential Info Concern- 
ing Evac of Sick and Wounded from Overseas, later 
modified by AG Ltr, 13 Jan 43, same sub, OCT HB 
PE Gen Evac of Patients. 

^-^ Paraphrase of Rad, WD to CG SOS ETO, 12 
Dec 42, CM-OUT 4001, and Ltr, CG HRPE to 
CofT SOS WD, 28 Nov 42, OCT HB Ocean Trans 
Hosp Ships. 

'-" Hist Red, OCT AFHQ N ATOLLS A, activation 
to 31 Oct 43. Sec. HE pars. 18 and 30, OCT HB 
North Africa. 

' ■" Transports generally lacked secure cjuarters for 
severe mental cases and Transportation Corps and 
Medical Corps personnel frequendy failed to agree 
on the types and numbers of patients that could 
properlv be evacuated on a given vessel. See Rpt, Col 
Thomas G. Tousey, MC, to CG NYPE, 20 Aug 43, 
OCT HB North Africa Misc Rpts. 

' " Logistical History of NATOUSA-MTOUSA, p. 
312. 



180 



THE TRANSPORTATION CORPS 



Prisoners of War 

The patients to be evacuated were 
never as numerous as the German and 
Itahan prisoners of war who had to be 
taken out of the theater. As the campaign 
developed, the PO W's, as the prisoners of 
war were called, became an increasing 
burden for the theater to guard and feed. 
Many prisoners, especially the Italians, 
were retained in North Africa as workers 
for the U.S. Army, but many more had to 
be shipped to the zone of interior, where 
they could be used to ease the labor short- 
age. Able-bodied prisoners of war, to be 
sure, could not expect the same amenities 
accorded American patients, but by ac- 
cepted international practice they were 
entitled to certain basic privileges such as 
adequate food, clothing, and medical care. 
The Transportation Corps was responsible 
for effecting POW movements by land 
and sea; the Office of the Provost Marshal 
General had over-all supervision, deter- 
mined policy and procedure, and fur- 
nished the military police to guard the 
prisoners en route to and aboard ship.^ '- 

The number of prisoners in American 
custody in North Africa did not bulk large 
until enemy resistance began to collapse 
in the spring of 1943. In mid-May the the- 
ater commander reported that from 
225,000 to 250,000 prisoners of war had 
been captured, most of whom would re- 
quire feeding by the U.S. Army. Reflect- 
ing subsequent large-scale POW evacu- 
ation from the theater, the total prisoner 
strength (German and Italian) in the 
United States increased progressively un- 
til it reached a peak of 1 72,763 in Decem- 
ber 1943. Of this total by far the greater 
number, 123,440, were Germans, many 
from Rommel's Afrika Korps.^ '■'■ 

The wholesale removal of POW's fol- 



lowing the Axis surrender in North Africa 
placed a severe strain on the North Afri- 
can railways, already swamped by the 
movement of casualties and the redistribu- 
tion of troops and materiel incident to 
renewed assaults in the Mediterranean. 
Herded on foot or in trucks to the rail- 
heads, the POW's then proceeded west- 
ward in boxcars. ''^^ In May alone, a total 
of 81,804 POW's was evacuated by rail 
from the Eastern Base Section. Many 
thousands more were carried by truck in 
convoys traveling to the west. In accord 
with the policy of evacuating POW's as 
fast as possible and by any available 
means, processing within the theater was 
kept to a minimum. Within each base sec- 
tion the transportation officer and the 
provost marshal shared the responsibility 
for the evacuation of POW's, who were as 
a rule either loaded directly aboard ship 
or held temporarily in the port stockade. "' 
Evacuation by sea of the rapidly grow- 
ing enemy prisoner population was ham- 
pered in the beginning by the U.S. Navy 
limit of 500 POW's for each unescorted 
vessel. This policy remained in effect until 
mid-May 1943, when General Eisenhower 
requested and received its temporary 
abrogation."" Because the regular troop 



' '- OCT HB Monograph 30, pp. 104-05, 111-12. 

'■■ Rad, Algiers to Oran and WAR, 18 May 43, 
CM-IN 11583. OCT 383.6-388.4 Africa; Statistical 
Br Contl Div Hq ASF WD, Statistical Review, World 
War II, p. 158, OCT HB. 

' ■' After removing POW's, many trucks returned 
loaded with depot reserves. 

' '■• See Hist Red, Trans Sec EBS, 1 May-30Jun 43, 
pp. 18-19, 40-41, and Hist Red, OCT AFHQ 
NATOUSA, activation to 31 Oct 43, Sec. HI, pars. 
26, 29, 31, OCT HB North Africa; SOP, Hq MBS, 
Evacuation of Prisoners of War, 1 1 May 43, OCT HB 
Ocean Trans POW. 

"" Memo, CofT WD for Adm R. S. Edwards, 13 
May 43, sub: Revision of POW Limitations, and Re- 
ply, 14 May, OCT HB Ocean Trans POW. 



NORTH AFRICA 



181 



transports could not carry the huge load, 
emergency passenger space had to be con- 
trived. At the theater's suggestion and 
with War Department approval, cargo 
vessels of the EC-2 Liberty type, which 
because of their primary mission became 
known as POW ships, were hastily con- 
verted. Using freighters from convoys 
UGS-8 through UGS-21, the theater 
evacuated 75,366 prisoners of war to the 
United States.''' 

As was to be expected, the POW vessels 
were poorly equipped to move personnel. 
The improvised sanitary facilities, which 
included overside latrines, were unsatis- 
factory. The water supply usually was 
insufficient. The prisoners subsisted on C 
rations, and at first they slept on blankets 
spread over the deck. All POW Liberty 
ships were operated by the War Shipping 
Administration, which also arranged for 
their conversion. The WSA furnished port- 
able passenger accommodations (standee 
berths), and provided the supplies for each 
ship. Initially, about 300 prisoners were 
carried on each vessel, but this figure later 
was raised to 500 or more. Lifesaving 
equipment was provided, including im- 
provised life rafts made from dunnage 
and empty oil drums and life preservers 
filled with native cork. Medical personnel, 
supplies, and equipment were placed 
aboard each vessel. Ordinarily, one medi- 
cal officer and three medical enlisted men 
were assigned to 300 prisoners. Aboard 
ship the POW's v/ere kept behind wire 
barricades and iron doors. Evacuation en- 
tailed a serious drain on the theater man- 
power, since armed guards had to travel 
on each ship, varying in number in pro- 
portion to the group being evacuated. 
Normally, the No. 2 'tween-deck space 
was equipped to hold 300 to 500 prisoners 
of war, and the No. 3 'tween-deck space 



was made to accommodate 40 or more 
escort guards.' '** 

The POW Liberties were obvious make- 
shifts, and the frecjuent overloading re- 
sulted in cramped, uncomfortable quar- 
ters and excessive strain on the ships' facil- 
ities. Being in no position to complain, the 
prisoners simply endured the passage. 
Later, when American soldiers had to be 
transported on the same POW ships, 
efforts were made to improve such features 
as messing arrangements, sanitary facili- 
ties, and ventilation.' '■' 

The Final Phase 

The closing months of the campaign 
had been characterized by a growing em- 
phasis on transportation and supply. 
Within the theater the basic Transporta- 
tion Corps problem remained that of co- 
ordinating and supplementing all avail- 
able means of transportation over the long 
and tenuous supply line in order to support 
the Allied push eastward into Tunisia. By 
combined lifts involving water, rail, and 
highway facilities, sufficient men and 
materiel were moved forward to support 
the American effort. The U.S. troops, said 
General Stewart, "never lacked supplies 
as the result of failure on the part of trans- 
portation." For this accomplishment he 
gave due credit to the support of the Chief 
of Transportation in Washington and the 
U.S. ports of embarkation."" 

1 •■ Hist Red, OCT AFHQ NATOUSA, activation 
to 31 Oct 43. Sec. Ill, pars. 10-11, OCT HB North 
Africa. 

i:;s OCT HB Monograph 30, pp. 115-17; Logistical 
History of .MATOUSA-MTOUSA, p. 1 13; Memo, CofT 
for Actg CofS ASF, 28 Jan 43, sub: Life-saving Equip, 
OCT HB Ocean Trans POW. 

' ■' Ultimately, by Transportation Corps and WSA 
action, these vessels were much improved. OCT HB 
Monograph 12, pp. 17-19, 30, and 115-17. 

"" Ltr, CofT (U.S.) AFHQ to CofT ASF WD, 6 
Jun 43, Hist Red, OCT AFHQ NATOUSA, activa- 
tion to 31 Oct 43, Tab AM, OCT HB North Africa. 



182 



THE TRANSPORTATION CORPS 



The North African campaign gave a 
helpful preview of the principal supply 
and transportation problems likely to be 
encountered in other theaters. Consider- 
able loss resulted from pilferage, despite 
guards and protective packaging.'" In 
North Africa, cartons were not wanted 
because they soon disintegrated when ex- 
posed to the elements in the open fields 
around Casablanca that were used for 
storage. As late as April, the deputy the- 
ater commander requested that balanced 
stocks be sent and that shipments be prop- 
erly packed and marked. This demand 
from the theater led to the pronouncement 
by General Gross that goods delivered 
unfit for use or that failed to arrive be- 
cause of improper packaging or marking 
constituted a "scandalous waste." "- 

Still another problem by no means 
peculiar to the North Africa theater was 
the frequent shipment of units without 
their equipment. This difficulty arose 
early, since the task force units had been 
compelled to leave behind 50 percent or 
more of their organic equipment, pre- 
dominantly vehicles. Pending the delivery 
of this equipment to and within the thea- 
ter, the effectiveness of the units involved 
was obviously impaired. The problem 
persisted, affecting the Transportation 
Corps as well as other units. General 
Gray, for instance, complained that three 
railway operating battalions were allowed 
to sail from the United States without 
their equipment, thereby materially limit- 
ing their usefulness in the theater.'" 
Largely because of shortages in materiel 
and shipping, the War Department and 
the theater were unable to eliminate the 
time lag between the arrival of troop units 
overseas and the delivery of their equip- 
ment. Nevertheless, the reports of ob- 
servers made it clear that here, indeed. 



was a condition calling for corrective 
action.'*' 

As to the supply picture, by early 1943 
the understandable desire of all concerned 
to avoid any conceivable shortages had 
culminated in an actual excess of certain 
items in the theater. This oversupply per- 
tained chiefly to items shipped on an 
automatic basis, such as subsistence, am- 
munition, and petroleum products. In an 
attempt to load all ships to the maximum, 
the ports in the zone of interior utilized as 
much filler cargo as possible, and espe- 
cially rations. Such shipments tended to 
accumulate and to deteriorate in North 
Africa, overtaxing the theater storage 
facilities. The obvious remedy, soon ap- 
plied, was to place further shipments to 
the theater on a requisition basis. '^' 

Following the end of hostilities. North 
Africa was important principally as a sup- 
ply base and a staging area for U.S. Army 
operations in Sicily and Italy. Reflecting 
the emphasis on this new mission was the 



'^' The natives generally were blamed for most 
thievery in North Africa, but cargo pilferage en route 
became so serious that by March 1943 General Gross 
decided to place special Transportation Corps cargo 
security officers aboard freighters to safeguard U.S. 
Army shipments. See Memo, Gross to Styer, 26 Mar 
43, sub: Rpt . . . by ASW, OCT 322-352.9 Africa 
1943. Cf OCT HB Monograph 18, pp. 147-151. 

"- Memo, CofT to Port Comdrs, N.Y., Boston, 
Hampton Rds., Baltimore, 26 Apr 43. sub: Ltr from 
Maj Gen Hughes, OCT 400 Africa. 

' " Memo, DG MRS to Dep Theater Comdr NAT- 
OUSA, 16 May 43, sub: Performance, MRS, OCT 
471-486.96 Africa. 

'''For typical complaints, see Memo, Brig Gen 
Gordon P. SaviUe, Dir Air Defense, to ACofS G-4, 
OCT HB North Africa Misc Info; Memo, McCloy 
to Styer, 22 Mar 43, sub: Rpt, OCT 322-352.9 Africa 
1943. John J. McCloy recommended that equipment 
be sent in advance of the troops, as was done in the 
ETO preshipment program. 

"■' Memo, Somervell for Gross, 19 Feb 43, Hq ASF 
Trans 1943. Note reply by Gross, 23 Feb 43, OCT 
HB North Africa Mi.sc Info. On the broader aspects, 
see OCT HB Monograjjh 27, pp. 33-34, 155-59. 



NORTH AFRICA 



183 



organization of a new Supply Brancli in 
the SOS Transportation Section on 1 June 
1943. Headed by Maj. Harry D. Kamy, 
the Supply Branch was concerned with 
the procurement, storage, and issue of 
items peculiar to the Transportation 
Corps, mainly railway, port, and marine 
equipment and supplies. Subsecjuently, a 
Transportation Corps theater depot for 
marine and port equipment was estab- 
lished at Oran, in addition to the several 
Transportation Corps subdepots already 
in operation. During July 1943 the Corps 
was made responsible for procuring, stor- 
ing, and issuing life preservers, a necessary 
item for troops embarking for Sicily and 
Italy and for enemy prisoners of war being 
evacuated to the United States.'"' In Sep- 
tember, two provisional base depots were 
established to handle railway equipment 
arriving at Oran and Algiers.' '' 

By the fall of 1943 the major Allied 
effort in the Mediterranean had shifted 
from North Africa to Italy. On 24 Octo- 
ber the U.S. Army chief of transportation 



in the theater, Ceneral Stewart, estab- 
lished a forward headquarters in Naples. 
The Director General, Military Railway 
Service, AFHQ, General Gray, had al- 
ready moved to that city.' '"^ Both Stewart 
and Gray had learned much in North 
Africa. Fortified with knowledge born of 
wartime experiences, they and their men 
faced the hard task of providing water, 
rail, and highway transport for the Italian 
campaign. 



'^« Hist Red, Trans Sec SOS NATOUSA, 1-30 Jun 
43, pp. 3-5; 1-31 Jul 43, p. 4; and 1-31 Aug 43, pp. 
4-6, OCT HB North Africa. Also, see Interv, Maj 
Kamv. 20-21 Sep 44, OCT HB North Africa Misc 
Info. 

''" The depots were at first manned by two provi- 
sional units organized in the theater; these became the 
2682d Base Depot Company in November 1943. Hist 
Red. 2682d Base Depot Co'(TC Prov), Nov 43, OCT 
HB North Africa Ry Units; Memo, Chief Rail Div 
OCT for ACofT for Opns, 26 May 43, sub: Base 
Depot Cos, TC, OCT 322-352.9 Africa. 

'^^ Hist Red, OCT AFHQ NATOUSA, activation 
to 31 Oct 43, Sec. H, par. 13, and Tab P, OCT HB 
North Africa; Ltr, DC MRS AFHQ to Chief Mil Ry 
Br Rail Div OCT WD, 23 Oct 43. OCT HB North 
Africa MRS Misc. 



CHAPTER V 



Sicily and Italy 



Following the liberation of North 
Africa, the Allied forces launched their 
next major assault against the island of 
Sicily, the nearest and most practicable 
objective for furthering the war in the 
Mediterranean. From Sicily it was only a 
stepjto attack the hard core of enemy re- 
sistance on the Italian mainland. Within 
this theater the primary purpose of Allied 
operations was to force the withdrawal of 
Fascist Italy from the European Axis and 
in doing so to hasten the collapse of Nazi 
Germany. 

The Organization of Transportation 
in the Mediterranean 

Allied activity in Sicily and Italy was 
undertaken within the same framework of 
command, supply, and transportation de- 
veloped during the North African cam- 
paign. General Eisenhower continued as 
supreme commander, AFHQ, until 8 
January 1944, by which time his forces 
had completed the conquest of Sicily and 
penetrated the Italian peninsula. Eisen- 
hower also headed the U.S. theater 
(NATOUSA),' and his deputy com- 
manded the Communications Zone, 
NATOUSA, including the base sections. 
Charged with directing U.S. Army supply 
activities, but without command author- 
ity, the Services of Supply, NATOUSA, 
functioned under General Larkin. 



During this period transportation in the 
Mediterranean area was supervised or ad- 
ministered through many agencies and 
echelons. At AFHQ^ co-ordination and 
general policy direction of Allied trans- 
portation activities were provided by the 
G-4 Movements and Transportation Sec- 
tion, in which General Stewart headed the 
American side." Stewart was also chief of 
transportation for the North African the- 
ater, and in that capacity he was responsi- 
ble to the communications zone com- 
mander for U.S. transportation activities. 
SOS, NATOUSA, had its own transporta- 
tion officer (Col. John R. Noyes), as did 
also each of the base sections. As the op- 
erations progressed, there were added to 
the three base sections in North Africa 
(Atlantic, Mediterranean, and Eastern) 
the Island Base Section (Headquarters, 
Palermo, Sicily), the Peninsular Base Sec- 
tion (Headquarters, Naples, Italy), and 
the Northern Base Section (Headquarters, 
Ajaccio, Corsica). ' 

The movement of men and materiel 
into the theater was effected chiefly by 
water, and the staff supervision of this ac- 



' Redesignated Miditenanean Theater of Opera- 
tions. U.S. Army (MTOUSA) on 1 Novemlx-r 1944. 
GO 11. NATOUSA, 24 Oct 44. 

- During the Sicilian and Italian campaigns, as 
earlier. Stewart's British counter|)art was Brigadier de 
l<h( I'hilipe. 

I'or rurllier details, see OC T IIB Monograph 17, 
PI). 106-13. 



SICILY AND ITALY 



185 



tivity, including the utilization of U.S. 
Army ships and ports, was a major func- 
tion of the theater chief of transportation. 
Railways and highways provided vital 
means of transport, but neither played as 
prominent a part in Stewart's organiza- 
tion as water transportation. The Military 
Railway Service, AFHQ, except for the 
necessary liaison and co-ordination with 
the office of the chief of transportation, 
enjoyed virtual autonomy, and highway 
activities were primarily the concern of 
the base sections. The principal function 
of Stewart's office in air traffic was to 
screen all demands for transportation by 
air of personnel and freight of American 
ground forces, arranging for movement on 
a priority basis. The theater chief of trans- 
portation also had a branch for opera- 
tional planning, which assisted in mount- 
ing task forces within the theater. 

When the Sicilian invasion began, 
Stewart's AFHQ-NATOUSA Transporta- 
tion Section staff was small. As of 1 July 
1943, he had twenty-two officers, one 
warrant officer and twenty enlisted men. 
His deputy chief was Colonel Fuller, and 
his executive officer. Colonel Sharp. Most 
of the personnel served in the Water, Op- 
erational Planning, and Administrative 
and Statistical Branches. The other 
branches — Rail, Air, and Highway — 
were small. Headquarters was then in 
Algiers. 

In the months that followed, Stewart's 
organization participated in the planning 
for each projected assault and co-ordi- 
nated U.S. transportation activities in 
support of the Allied advance into Sicily 
and Italy. At the same time the trans- 
portation office kept in as close contact as 
possible with all forward elements in the 
theater. When the AFHQ Advance Ad- 



ministrative Echelon (Flambo) was estab- 
lished at Naples in October 1943, it 
contained a U.S. Transportation Section 
under Colonel Fuller, who also continued 
to serve as Deputy Chief of Transporta- 
tion, AFHQ. Initially composed of five of- 
ficers and twelve enlisted men, Fuller's 
staff functioned as an advanced echelon of 
the Transportation Section, AFHQ- 
NATOUSA, to co-ordinate American 
transportation matters in Italy.^ 

Meanwhile, the SOS Transportation 
Section, located at Oran, had grown in 
size and activity. To the Water, Rail, 
Highway, and Air Sections, all established 
before the end of hostilities, were added a 
Planning and Prestowage Section (May 
1943) and Supply and Troop Branches 
(June 1943). Principal activities super- 
vised by the SOS transportation officer 
during the latter half of 1943 were the 
movements of SOS passengers and cargo, 
Transportation Corps supply, prestowage 
and operational movements, and the allo- 
cation and training of transportation 
troops.^ 

The prevailing pattern of transportation 
organization was modified as the result of 
the reorganization of NATOUSA in Feb- 
ruary 1944. At that time the duties and re- 
sponsibilities of the Commanding General, 
Communications Zone, including the 
command of the base sections and activi- 
ties therein, were turned over to the SOS 



' On the Transportation Section Advance Admin- 
istrative Echelon (later Allied Armies in Italy), which 
remained active throughout 1944, see the following: 
Hist Red, Trans Sec AFHQ AAI, 26 Nov 43-31 Dec 
44, OCT HB North Africa; OCT HB Monograph 17, 
pp. 114-15, 166-73; History of Allied Force Head- 
quarters and Headquarters NATOUSA (hereafter 
cited as Hist of AFHQ), Pt. HI, December 1943-July 
1944, pp. 929-31, DRB AGO. 

"' On the SOS Transportation Section before Febru- 
ary 1944 see OCT HB Monograph 17, pp. 121-27. 



186 



THE TRANSPORTATION CORPS 



commander, General Larkin." The con- 
solidation of command and operational 
functions pertaining to the communica- 
tions zone made necessary a restatement 
of the respective responsibilities of the U.S. 
theater chief of transportation and the 
SOS transportation officer, and by agree- 
ment between Larkin and Stewart such a 
division of functions was worked out. Be- 
cause of the Allied nature of operations 
and the need for daily contacts with the 
Navy, the War Shipping Administration, 
and other agencies, the over-all co-ordi- 
nation of transportation activities contin- 
ued to be the responsibility of Stewart, as 
Chief of Transportadon (U.S.), AFHQ. 
Serving as adviser to the Allied and 
American .theater commanders on U.S. 
transportation matters, he would partici- 
pate in AFHQplanning; allocate ship- 
ping, air, and rail lift to various bidders 
under priorities determined by AFHQ; 
secure vessel allocations and arrange for 
the water movement of U.S. personnel 
and cargo within the theater; and super- 
vise the movement of units and vehicles 
into, within, and out of the theater. He 
was also to receive and disseminate ship- 
ping information, determine the ability of 
ports to receive incoming vessels, and con- 
duct diversion meetings for incoming 
UGS convoys. 

The SOS transportation officer, on the 
other hand, was to serve as adviser to the 
SOS commander. Colonel Noyes was to 
exercise staff supervision over all trans- 
portation facilities in the communications 
zone, and would retain his responsibilities 
relating to SOS troop and supply move- 
ments, Transportation Corps supply, pre- 
stowage, operational movements, and 
troop training and assignments. He would 
secure the means for effecting supply 
movements from the theater chief of 



transportation, and would request the lat- 
ter to arrange for troop movements under 
priorities established by AFHQ." 

Although provision was made for con- 
stant liaison between the SOS transporta- 
tion officer and the theater chief of trans- 
portation, the arrangement did not work 
well. Early in June 1944 Stewart informed 
Larkin that experience had revealed a 
number of serious defects. Responsibility 
and authority were divided, confusion 
and differences of opinion had arisen, and 
he believed that the arrangement might 
well break down under the strain of 
mounting a large amphibious operation.* 
To remedy the situation, the theater issued 
a directive on 23 June designating Stewart 
as SOS transportation officer, in addition 
to his other duties. Colonel Noyes became 
Stewart's deputy. The control and super- 
vision of transportation activity on the 
AFHQ NATOUSA, and SOS levels were 
now unified in the person of General 
Stewart, who was responsible to the SOS 
commander for transportation matters 
pertaining solely to U.S. movements and 
the communications zone, and to the Al- 
lied and U.S. theater commanders for 
matters handled on the AFHQ level. 

Actual consolidation of the AFHQ- 
NATOLISA and SOS Transportation Sec- 
tions began in July, when AFHQ and 



" For details on the reorganization, which was de- 
signed to conserve manpower, see Hist of AFHQ, Pt. 
in, p. 746. Larkin's consolidated headquarters re- 
tained the designation SOS NATOUSA until 1 Octo- 
ber 1944, when it was officially renamed COMZONE 
NATOUSA (later COMZONE MTOUSA). See 
Blakcney (ed.). Logistical History of NATOUSA- 
MTOUSA: 11 August 1942 to 30 November 1945, pp. 
•M)-?,\. 

" Hist Red, Trans Sec SOS NATOUSA, Feb 44, 
p|). 1-2, Exhibits A, B, and F, OCT HE North Africa; 
Hist of AFHQ., Pt. HI, pp. 776-77. 

^ Stewart was here thinking of the projected inva- 
sion of southern France, which was undertaken in 
mid- August 1944. 



SICILY AND ITALY 



187 



SOS moved their respective headquarters 
from Algiers and Oran to Caserta, Italy." 
The process ot merging the transportation 
staffs and functions continued for several 
months, but by mid-August Stewart's or- 
ganization had been streamlined into two 
branches, one administrative and the 
other operational, each composed of 
groups with specific assignments. In the 
following month a new group was added, 
which operated a clearing agency for lost 
and unclaimed personal baggage — a 
perennial problem overseas.'" 

By October 1944, when the Office of 
the Chief of Transportation attained its 
maximum expansion, the Administrative 
Branch was divided into six groups con- 
cerned, respectively, with office adminis- 
tration, personnel, supply, planning, con- 
trol, and personal baggage. The Opera- 
tions Branch also contained six groups, of 
which four were responsible for arranging 
shipments by water, air, rail, and high- 
way, including the necessary liaison. Of 
the two remaining groups, the one had 
technical supervision of the use of floating 
equipment, with the required planning 
and liaison — an important function. The 
other, having by far the largest staff in the 
Operations Branch as well as in the entire 
office, arranged, supervised, co-ordinated, 
and recorded the movement of U.S. Army 
cargo and personnel into, within, and 
from the theater." (Chart 2) 

In November 1944 General Stewart 
moved forward to serve as transportation 
officer for the newly created Southern 
Line of Communications (SOLOC) in 
southern France. He was succeeded by 
Colonel Lastayo, formerly Transportation 
Officer, Peninsular Base Section. Stewart 
took with him to France a sizable portion 
of his staff. The resultant loss of experi- 
enced transportation personnel might 



have proved serious for the Mediterranean 
theater had not the transportation activity 
already begun to decline. Colonel Lastayo 
still had the tremendous task of removing 
American personnel, supplies, and equip- 
ment from North Africa to Italy and to 
southern France.'" However, as the fight- 
ing progressed to the area north of Rome, 
the lines of communication were short- 
ened and the demands made on the 
Transportation Corps lessened appre- 
ciably. 

The organizational pattern remained 
substantially unchanged through V-E 
Day. Lastayo was followed as theater chief 
of transportation on ISJune 1945 by his 
former executive officer, Colonel McKen- 
zie. Subsequently, during August and 
September 1945 the transportation office 
was absorbed by the Peninsular Base 
Section.' ' 

In his primary role of supporting the 
American forces in the Mediterranean, 
the U.S. theater chief of transportation 
faced several formidable tasks. He had to 
get things done through many echelons 
and commands and with many nationali- 
ties. Even within the U.S. Army he had to 
deal with three major echelons of com- 
mand, a confusing situation that ultimate- 
ly was resolved by having the chief of 



'' Supplementary Hist Red, Trans Sec SOS 
NATOUSA.Jun-Jul 44, p. 1, Incls 1-3, OCT HB 
North Africa; Hist of AFHQ, Pt. HI, pp. 776-77. 

1" Previously, this had been a Quartermaster func- 
tion. Hist Red, OCT AFHQ NATOUSA, Jul-Sep 
44, p. 24, and Exhibits E-3 and M-2, OCT HB North 
Africa. 

" Hist Red, OCT AFHQ MTOUSA. Oct-Dec 44, 
Exhibit C-1, OCT HB North Africa. 

'- At the close of 1944, approximately 100,000 tons 
of material remained to be outloaded from Oran. Hist 
Red, OCT AFHQ MTOUSA, Oct-Dec 44, p. 14, 
OCT HB North Africa. 

'■'■ Hist Red, OCT AFHQ MTOUSA, Jan-Mar 45, 
pp. 1 and 5, Apr-Jun 45, p. 10 and Exhibit B-3, Jul- 
Sep 45, Exhibits E-2 and E-3. OCT HB North Africa. 



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SICILY AND ITALY 



189 



transportation wear three hats — one each 
for AFHQ, NATOUSA, and the SOS, 
NATOUSA. He had to prepare for each 
new landing operation, often before the 
current mission had been completed. In 
addition, he had to clear the rear lines of 
personnel, supplies, and equipment as 
quickly as possible in order to meet urgent 
needs in the forward areas. 

To furnish the proper co-ordination and 
supervision, the U.S. theater chief of 
transportation, as earlier during the North 
African campaign, was represented at 
AFHQ meetings where incoming vessels 
were assigned to ports best situated to re- 
ceive them, and when the limited water, 
rail, and airlifi:s were allocated on a prior- 
ity basis. Of special significance in Italy 
were the Shipping Diversion and Port 
Acceptance meetings, at which decisions 
were reached as to where all incoming 
vessels should be discharged; and the Rail 
Priority of Movements meetings, at which 
tonnage for rail movements was allotted 
among the respective bidders." 

Since the Allied personnel and equip- 
ment were not sufficient for the job, trans- 
portation operations were heavily de- 
pendent upon local resources. Wherever 
possible, civilian labor and prisoners of 
war were utilized. As the Allied forces 
moved forward, they frequently faced the 
necessity of rehabilitating war-torn trans- 
portation facilities for military use. 

U.S. Army Transportation in Sicily 

Within the Mediterranean theater com- 
bat was characterized by a series of am- 
phibious landings in Axis-held areas, of 
which the first was launched in Sicily in 
the summer of 1943. Sicily provided a 
convenient steppingstone for the Allied 
advance from North Africa to the Italian 



peninsula. The capture of this strategi- 
cally situated island was highly essential 
in order to clear the Mediterranean sea 
route. Moreover, as a military objective 
it did not require an excessive expendi- 
ture of men and materiel. At the Casa- 
blanca Conference, in January 1943, the 
decision was reached to invade Sicily dur- 
ing the favorable period of the moon in 
the following July, but only after comple- 
tion of the conquest of Tunisia. The un- 
dertaking posed two major problems. First, 
preparations for the assault had to be 
made in North Africa, far from the major 
supply bases in the United Kingdom 
and the United States. Second, the task 
force units, together with their equip- 
ment and supplies, had to be assembled 
from several widely scattered areas, and 
one infantry division, the 45th, had to be 
brought from the United States. Since 
ocean shipping fell far short of the amount 
required and since the rail and highway 
facilities within the theater were grossly 
inadequate, Husky, as the Sicilian opera- 
tion was called, placed great strain upon 
the available transport. 

Besides co-ordinating the activities of 
the American and British ground, sea, 
and air forces assigned to the assault. Gen- 
eral Eisenhower's planners had to consider 
various contingent factors such as the 
number of ships and landing craft likely 
to be available, the probable capacity of 
the ports to be employed for mounting the 
task forces, and the most suitable time and 
place to launch the actual invasion.' ' 

' ' OCT HB Monograph 1 7, pp. 151 -56. 

'■' For a brief helpful summary of the Sicilian oper- 
ation, read General Eisenhower's report, AFHQ, 
Commander in Chiefs Dispatch, Sicilian Campaign 
1943 (hereafter cited as CinC's Dispatch, Sicilian 
Campaign), OPD 319.1 ETO (4 Aug 44). See also 
Howard M. Smyth, Sicily: The Surrender of Italy, a 
volume in preparation for the series UNITED 
STATES ARMY IN WORLD WAR II. 



190 



THE TRANSPORTATION CORPS 



The specific areas for the assauh were 
selected so as to insure protection for the 
invaders by Allied aircraft based on 
Malta and in Tunisia. The beaches on the 
southern coast of Sicily were relatively 
narrow and led directly into rough, moun- 
tainous terrain that favored the defenders 
and confined the motor transport of the 
attackers to the comparatively few pass- 
able roads. Under these circumstances 
the primary objective of the Allied com- 
mander was to land the maximum in men 
and materiel as rapidly as possible at the 
coastal points where air cover could be 
furnished, and thereafter to provide addi- 
tional support through captured ports, 
specifically Palermo in the west and Syra- 
cuse and Catania in the east. 

After considerable discussion, General 
Eisenhower later decided to postpone the 
projected seizure of Palermo and to con- 
centrate the attack in the crucial south- 
eastern area, with a view to the early cap- 
ture of several important airfields deemed 
essential to forestall prohibitive shipping 
losses by enemy action. The final revised 
plan of 18 May 1943, advocated by the air 
commander and the naval commander, 
indicated that, for lack of a major port, 
the invaders for a time would have to rely 
heavily on supply and maintenance over 
the beaches. Fortunately, the landings 
were facilitated by the use for the first 
time by Americans in the Atlantic area of 
certain new types of equipment. Among 
these were the various ocean-going land- 
ing craft that could deliver men and ma- 
teriel directly to the beach areas, and 
the 2'/2-ton amphibian truck, or DUKW, 
which proved extremely useful for ship-to- 
shore movements of personnel and 
cargo.'" 

The revised plan did not alter the tar- 
get date of 10 July, which among other 
reasons had been set to insure moonlight 



for the airborne troops that were to be 
dropped in advance of the assault. The 
invasion was to be accomplished by Task 
Force 141 (later called the 15th Army 
Group). It consisted of two separate task 
forces, which on landing were to consti- 
tute the U.S. Seventh Army under Lt. 
Gen. George S. Patton, Jr., and the Brit- 
ish Eighth Army, under General Sir Ber- 
nard L. Montgomery. During the plan- 
ning period, the two armies were known 
respectively as Force 343 (the Western 
Task Force) and Force 545 (the Eastern 
Task Force), the former American and the 
latter British. 

In NATOUSA the responsibility for the 
transportation aspects of the Husky op- 
eration centered in the office of the chief 
of transportation. At the outset General 
Stewart assigned two officers to assist in 
the planning and to maintain liaison with 
the special staff group of the I Armored 
Corps (Reinforced), which was to lay the 
groundwork for the American task force. 
To clarify the duties and responsibilities of 
the various American agencies involved, a 
meeting was held at Rabat, French Mo- 
rocco, on 11 March 1943, at which an 
agreement was reached on the mounting 
of the operation.'' Briefly, it made the task 
force commander responsible for furnish- 
ing detailed data to the theater chief of 
transportation and to SOS, NATOUSA, 
on the men and materiel to be moved; 
designating the desired time, place, and 
order of discharge; providing a transport 
quartermaster with suitable assistants on 
each combat-loaded vessel; and supplying 



'" See Action Rpl, Western Naval Task Force, The 
Sicilian Campaign, Operation "HusKY,"July-August 
1943 (hereafter cited as WNTF Action Rpt, Sicilian 
Campaign), OCMH Files. 

'' The agencies represented were Task Force 141, 
the Chief of Transportation, AFHQ, the SOS, 
NATOUSA, the Northwest African Air Service Com- 
mand, and the U.S. Navy. 



SICILY AND ITALY 



191 



adequate personnel for discharge opera- 
tions on the far shore. The actual loading 
was to be done by the base sections under 
the supervision of SOS, NATOUSA, and 
in accordance with stowage plans ap- 
proved by the task force commander. The 
Navy was to provide, man, and operate 
the combat-loaded vessels, landing ships, 
and other craft employed in the assault 
and was to furnish all ocean transport for 
the attacking force. 

Although these arrangements obviously 
could not cover all contingencies, they 
helped eliminate much of the confusion 
previously encountered in North Africa. 
Within Stewart's office, the Operational 
Planning Branch took the lead in the 
preparations for Husky. In anticipation of 
greatly increased activity by this branch, 
then headed by Colonel Murdoch, its 
staff was augmented by nine Transporta- 
tion Corps officers from the United States, 
who arrived shortly before the invasion 
began.'* 

Stewart's organization worked closely 
with the Transportation Division of the 
G-4 Section of the U.S. Seventh Army, 
which was guided by Colonel Tank, who 
had previously served as port commander 
at Casablanca. The Transportation Divi- 
sion had a slow growth. Colonel Tank was 
hard put to find qualified personnel and 
was further hampered by having to divide 
his small staff between the forward and 
the rear echelons of the Headquarters, 
Force 343, at Mostaganem and Oran. As 
a special staff" group devoted exclusively to 
transportation matters. Tank's organiza- 
tion functioned mainly to establish trans- 
portation policy and to control and super- 
vise water, rail, and highway transport for 
the U.S. Army in the Sicilian operation. '•' 

The initial disposition of the Seventh 
Army contemplated three independent 
subtask forces landing simultaneously. 



with a fourth force held in reserve. The 
assault troops consisted of three reinforced 
infantry divisions: the 3d, or Joss Force, 
under Maj. Gen. Lucian K. Truscott; the 
1st, or Dime Force, under Maj. Gen. Terry 
Allen; and the 45th, or Cent Force, under 
Maj. Gen. Troy C. Middleton. The 1st 
and 45th Divisions together formed the 
II Corps, or Shark Force, commanded by 
Lt. Gen. Omar N. Bradley.-" Since the 
assault area lacked a single sizable port, 
provision had to be made for over-the- 
beach supply, for thirty days if necessary. 
The basic plan was to give each soldier 
only the essentials for combat. Each sub- 
task force was charged with its own main- 
tenance until such time as consolidation 
could be effected and Force 343 could 
assume the responsibility for supply. The 
1st Engineer Special Brigade was the 
agency chosen to consolidate and control 
all supply activities for the task force as 
they were relinquished by the divisions. 
In essence the brigade was to function as 
the SOS for the Seventh Army. '^ 

Preinvasion Preparations 

The assembling of the subtask forces 
began before the completion of the Tunis- 
ian campaign. When the dates for release 
of the assigned units had been settled, the 
G-3, AFHQ, authorized the G-3, Force 

'" Hist Red, OCT AFHQ NATOUSA, activation 
to 31 Oct 43, Sec. Ill, par. 3, and Tab AL, OCT HB 
North Africa. 

'■' See Report of Operations of U.S. Seventh Army 
in SiciHan Campaign (hereafter cited as Seventh 
Armv Rpt of Opns), Pt. II, G-4 Rpt, pp. E-12 and 
E-13.'aG Opns Rpts RG 207.03. 

-" See Report of Operations of II Corps in the 
Sicilian Campaign. 1 Sep 43 (hereafter cited as II 
Corps Rpt of Opns). OCMH Files. Cf. Omar N. 
Bradley, A Soldier's Story (New York: Henry Holt and 
Company, 195 1 ), Chs."VIII-X. 

-' Seventh Army Rpt of Opns, Pt. II, G-4 Rpt, p. 
E- 1 2. After the close of the campaign the brigade was 
replaced by the 6625th Base Area Group, a provision- 
al organization that was succeeded by the Island Base 
Section in September 1943. 



192 



THE TRANSPORTATION CORPS 



343, to issue the movement orders. Any 
necessary additional transportation was 
allocated by G-4, Movements and Trans- 
portation, AFHQ^ and furnished by SOS, 
NATOUSA, through the base sections. 
The close co-ordination required to imple- 
ment the movement and mounting sched- 
ule for all headquarters concerned was 
supplied largely through the G-4, Move- 
ments and Transportation Section, AFHQ. 
Transshipment within the theater was a 
major problem since the troops, supplies, 
training centers, staging areas, and final 
ports of embarkation were often hundreds 
of miles apart. All available types of trans- 
portation in the theater were employed — 
water, rail, highway, air.-- 

The units taking part in the invasion 
received special amphibious training, 
mainly at the Fifth Army Invasion Train- 
ing Center on the Gulf of Arzew. The 1st 
Engineer Special Brigade helped train all 
beach personnel, placing particular em- 
phasis on the utilization of the new land- 
ing craft. It also trained all DUKW 
drivers. Selected units conducted practice 
exercises under simulated combat condi- 
tions, but for lack of time these rehearsals 
were hurriedly planned and at best were 
"dry runs" on a reduced scale.- ' 

The assembly, mounting, and supply of 
the assault forces taxed Allied resources to 
the limit, especially with respect to sea 
transport. The British components were 
drawn from such widely separated areas 
as the United Kingdom and the Middle 
East, and the U.S. 45th Division had to 
be loaded in the United States, with a re- 
sultant heavy drain on shipping. Apart 
from combat-loading one division, the 
principal contribution of the zone of inte- 
rior lay in dispatching a greatly increased 
troop and cargo lift to the North African 
theater and in procuring the ships, men, 
and materiel for the task.- ' 



One of the first problems was to provide 
the assault vessels required for the 45th 
Division. In order to avoid transshipment 
after arriving overseas, the theater had 
urgently requested that this unit with its 
equipment and vehicles be loaded in the 
United States in the same ships that were 
to be used in the invasion. The U.S. Navy 
helped meet this need by withdrawing 
combat loaders from the Pacific, and also 
procured, manned, and operated the land- 
ing craft and ships for the American task 
force. The 45th Division alone had ten 
LST's, which carried tanks, bulldozers, 
and other heavy equipment from the 
United States. 

Even more pressing than the require- 
ments for assault ships were the ever- 
increasing demands for troop and cargo 
lift to support the operation. Rather than 
risk an excessive accumulation of shipping 
for the build-up in North Africa, more 
intensive use of the available troop and 
cargo fleet was sought by increasing the 
size of the slow (UGS) cargo convoys from 
45 to 60 ships, to which the U.S. Navy 
agreed in February 1943, and by reducing 
the UGS convoy interval in the following 
month from 25 to 15 days. "' With regard 



" The 82d Airborne Division, for example, moved 
from Casablanca to Oujda, French Morocco, for 
training and then to Kairouan, Tunisia, for final as- 
sembly before the assault. Its follow-up troops came 
by air from Kairouan and by sea from Bizerte. 
Seventh Army Rpt of Opns, Pt. II. G-3 Rpt, p. D-3. 

- • Ibid., G-3 Rpt, Ch. IV. Cf. CinC's Dispatch, 
Sicilian Campaign, pp. 17-18. 

-' For the basic data on preparations in the United 
States, see Diary of a Certain Plan (ASF Ping Div, 
DRB AGO), a daily compilation prepared at Head- 
quarters, ASF; and OCT HB Wylie Bigot I and II. 

-'' Later in 1943, beginning with UGS- 14, the cargo 
ship convoys sailed at ten-day intervals, and the 
ma.ximum number of ships per convoy was increased 
to 80. See C.M.T. [Combined Military Transporta- 
tion] Study 40/1, 13 May 43; App. B to Atlantic Con- 
voy Conf (Rpt of Escort and Convoy Committee, 
1 Mar 43), pp. 3-4; and Memo, King for Marshall, 
23 May 43. All in OCT HB ^lop Convoys. 



SICILY AND ITALY 



193 



to the troop lift, the immediate objective 
was to deliver approximately 160,000 men 
to the theater by the end of May 1943. 
This was achieved by increasing the num- 
ber carried on the troop convoys, begin- 
ning with UGF-6, and by employing large 
troop transports, such as the West Point, 
which were fast enough to travel without 
escort. The troop transports docked at 
Casablanca."'' 

Although troop transports could be 
found, the assembling of additional cargo 
vessels presented a problem for which 
there was no ready solution, since shipping 
was tight throughout the world. Also, the 
theater and the War Department gave di- 
vergent estimates on the number of vessels 
required. In April 1943, according to 
Washington, for instance, the four UGS 
convoys for Husky (7, 7 A, 8, and 8A) 
would require only 169 cargo ships. The 
theater scheduled 181. Although the the- 
ater was willing to accept a reduction of 
not more than 10 cargo ships on UGS 8A — 
so as to avoid the increased hazard in an 
unduly large and unwieldy convoy — in 
the final analysis the theater demands for 
cargo ships had to be and were met. '' 

Still another complication arose when 
certain cargo ships had to be specially 
equipped in the United States for reten- 
tion and use in the theater. The theater 
wanted twenty-four motor transport ves- 
sels to deliver vehicles and drivers from 
North Africa to the beaches in Sicily. Each 
ship was to be fitted with removable wash- 
rooms, mess facilities, and standee bunks 
for 300 men. An additional eight cargo 
ships were needed to lift overflow vehicles 
and other impedimenta of the 45th Divi- 
sion. All thirty-two vessels were Liberty 
ships. The standee bunks were to be in- 
stalled overseas so as not to waste cargo 
space on the transatlantic voyage. Each 
ship carried three LCM-3's on deck and 



had sufficient cargo-handling gear aboard 
to accomplish all discharge. Shaded cluster 
lights in all holds facilitated discharge at 
night, and a control switch permitted 
instant blackout.-'^ 

The cargo requirements of the theater 
created additional problems. At times the 
editing of requisitions by the Oversea Sup- 
ply Division of the New York Port of Em- 
barkation disclosed what appeared to be 
excessive demands in the light of the ship- 
ments already dispatched. When asked to 
reconsider, the theater often scaled down 
its requests, notably for gasoline and am- 
munition, of which sizable stocks were 
already on hand in North Africa. Last- 
minute requests were filled by the stated 
deadlines wherever possible, even though 
hurried changes in cargo loading in the 
zone of interior were necessary.-'' Despite 
the strain on transportation, tactical 
organizations, for fear of being caught 
short, tended to request supplies substan- 
tially in excess of amounts really re- 
quired.^" 

Mounting the Attack 

The build-up of men and materiel for 



-'■ Diary cited n. 24, entries for 20 and 27 Feb, 2 
and 5 Mar 43. 

'-' The theater's shipping requirements mounted 
steadily, and it viewed any reduction as Hkely to im- 
peril success. See Rads, OPD WD to Fortune Al- 
giers, 8 Apr 43, CM-OUT 3425, Algiers to WAR, 15 
Apr 43, CM-IN 8901. and Algiers to AG WAR, 29 
Apr 43, CMTN 17440. All in OCT HB Wylie 
Bigot I. 

-^^ For basic rads, Apr- May 1943, see OCT HB 
Wylie Bigot I. Similarly equipped vessels were later 
employed in the Italian and French campaigns. See 
Interv with Col John T Danaher, 2 Apr 45, OCT HB 
North Africa Misc. 

-■' See Diary cited n. 24, entries for 29 Apr, 27, 29, 
and 31 May, 1, 3, 4, 15, and 29 Jun 43. 

'" On 22 August 1943, by the most conservative 
estimates, Stewart reported, a total of 8 ships carrying 
40,000 dead-weight tons of cargo that were not 
needed and could not be discharged in Sicily. Hist 
Red, OCT AFHQ NATOUSA, activation to 31 Oct 
43, Tab AL, OCT HB North Africa. 



194 



THE TRANSPORTATION CORPS 



Husky, coupled with the demands of the 
Tunisian campaign, taxed severely the 
limited transportation facilities in North 
Africa. Since the entire burden of mount- 
ing the forces to invade Sicily clearly could 
not be shouldered by the theater alone, 
the theater urgently requested that one 
subtask force be combat-loaded in the 
zone of interior. 

Subtask Force Cent, the reinforced 45th 
Infantry Division under General Middle- 
ton, was to embark from the Hampton 
Roads Port of Embarkation, where valu- 
able experience had already been gleaned 
from the loading of the Western Task Force 
for Torch. Late in 1942 the major respon- 
sibility for preparing the 45th Division for 
overseas shipment was delegated to the 
Army Ground Forces, but the latter was 
hampered somewhat because it was not 
brought into the supply picture until mid- 
April 1943. At that time plans and prepa- 
rations for the force were well advanced. ^^ 

With a view to avoiding a situation 
similar to the confusion caused by con- 
flicting instructions for the Torch loading, 
a conference was held at the Hampton 
Roads Port of Embarkation on 19 April 
1943 at which all interested agencies — 
Army, Navy, and Army Air Forces — were 
represented. Detailed plans and proce- 
dures were worked out, and effective con- 
trol measures were set up for the move- 
ment of the Cent subtask force. The force 
was to remain under the control of the 
Army Ground Forces until it reached the 
port staging area. Camp Patrick Henry. 
The port commander and his staff dealt 
very closely and directly with General 
Middleton's organization, and no serious 
difficulties were encountered. Neverthe- 
less, some shipping space was not utilized 
because the task force stowage plan was 
received at the port too late to permit 



assembling additional cargo called for in 
the plan. 

As a first step to insure a successful load- 
ing of General Middleton's men, equip- 
ment, and supplies, the War Department 
issued a basic directive establishing in de- 
tail the requirements for the movement, 
outlining the responsibilities of all agencies 
concerned, and setting up effective control 
measures.^-' For the Army Service Forces, 
all matters pertaining to this movement 
were channeled through Col. William E. 
Carraway in Washington and a single 
Transportation Corps staff officer at the 
port, Maj. Maynard C. NichoU. Insistence 
upon a minimum of change after the plans 
were firm was a further factor in forestall- 
ing confusion." 

The time schedule permitted practice 
in combat loading at the port and am- 
phibious training at Solomons Island, 
Maryland.^' The men of the 45th were 
first concentrated at Camp Pickett, Vir- 
ginia. Next they moved to the newly com- 
pleted staging area. Camp Patrick Henry, 
thereby coming under the control of the 
Hampton Roads port. The last step was 
the actual embarkation. 



" Sec Robert R. Palmer, Bell I. Wiley, and Wil- 
liam R. Keast, The Procurement and Training of Ground 
Combat Troops, UNITED STATES ARMY IN 
WORLD WAR II (Washington, 1948), pp. 567-68, 
580. 

'■- Memo, CofS WD for CG 45th Inf Div (rein- 
forced), CG AGF, and CG ASF, 14 Apr 43, sub: 
Overseas Mvmt of 45th Inf Div Reinforced, OPD 
370.5 Sec (4-14-43); History of Preparation for Move- 
ment of the 45th Infantry Division, Reinforced (here- 
after cited as Hist of Preparation for Mvmt of 45th 
Div), Vol. IV, Sec. II, Tab A, AG Mob Div ASF 
Files. 

" See Proceedings, 1st Port Comdrs' Conf, Boston, 
Mass., 30 Aug-1 Sep 43, pp. 54-60, OCT HB PE Gen. 

" General Middlcton later described the port and 
the island as "very poor places" for this training, 
which he thought might better have been given in the 
theater. See Hist of Preparation for Mvmt of 45th 
Div, Vol. IV, .Sec. II, Tab F. 



SICILY AND ITALY 



195 



Supplies and equipment for the 45th 
were assembled at the port much more 
efficiently than had those for Torch, in 
large measure because a standard proce- 
dure had been developed by the Move- 
ments Branch, ASF. A few last-minute 
items had to be delivered by air. Vehicles 
required the usual protective waterproof- 
ing for an amphibious landing. Stowage 
was planned by a ship transportation offi- 
cer (formerly called transport quartermas- 
ter) assigned to each combat-loaded vessel. 
Middleton's force was to carry 21 days' 
supply of rations and packaged gasoline, 
together with 7 units of fire. 

Part of the cargo for this assault group 
was palletized, that is, lashed to wooden 
pallets so as to form compact bundles ca- 
pable of being picked up by a fork-lift 
truck or pulled over a beach by bulldozer 
or other vehicle.^"' Opinion within the War 
Department was divided as to the feasi- 
bility of this innovation, and within the 
Army Service Forces it was doubted if the 
necessary pallets could be procured and 
properly loaded by the deadline date of 
10 May 1943 for the arrival of supplies at 
the port. Palletizing was therefore limited 
to 10 days' supply of 5-in-l rations and 50 
percent of the motor oil, gasoline, and 
water. The last two items, which were 
transported in 5-gallon "blitz" cans, were 
stacked in two rows, forming a pallet 43 
inches high with a total of 2,512 pounds. 
Although palletization obviously entailed 
some loss of shipping space, it was favor- 
ably regarded by General Middleton's 
G-4.-"' 

Altogether, the movement of men and 
materiel to the port proceeded without 
serious hitch. The subtask force with most 
of its supplies and equipment was loaded 
aboard 13 attack transports (7 APA's and 
6 XAP's) and 5 cargo attack vessels 



( AKA's), in two separate groups.'^' Headed 
by an elaborately equipped communica- 
tions ship, the USS Ancon, the assault con- 
voy — UGF-9 — sailed on 8 June 1943, car- 
rying approximately 22,000 troops and 
46,000 measurement tons of cargo. ^'^ All 
19 vessels arrived safely at Mers el Kebir 
on 22 June. 

The 1st Embarkation Group, a provi- 
sional organization built around the 10th 
Port and Company G of the 591st Engi- 
neer Boat Regiment, was to load the re- 
inforced 3d Infantry Division (subtask 
force Joss) at the newly captured port of 
Bizerte. '" Under the command of Lt. Col. 
William F. Powers, the embarkation group 
began taking over its mission from the 
Eastern Base Section in late May 1943. 
Meanwhile, the Corps of Engineers had 
started reconstruction of damaged shore 
facilities at Bizerte, and American and 
British naval salvage crews were working 
to clear the surrounding waters of sunken 
enemy vessels. The proximity of this port 
to Sicily made it an ideal jumping-off- 



« Cf. OCT HB Monograph 19, pp. 143-46. 

■'' Diary cited n. 24, entries for 12-16 Apr 43; Hist 
of Preparation for Mvmt of 45th Div, Vol. IV, Sec. 
II, Tab E. The G-4 later reported that palletizing 
had expedited the unloading of ships and the clearing 
of beaches in Sicily. On the development of the useful 
5-gallon blitz can (sometimes called Jerry can) see 
Erna Risch, The Quartermaster Corps: Organization, Sup- 
ply and Services, I, UNITED STATES ARMY IN 
WORLD WAR II (Washington, 1953), 144-46. 

'•' The remainder of the force's organizational 
equipment, including 54 tanks, was dispatched in a 
slow convov composed of 8 Liberty ships and 10 
LST's. 

■^ Available troop and cargo figures vary. See Hist 
Rpt 4, HRPE, Apps. I and II, OCT HB HRPE; 
Compilation of 31 Jul 43, Ping Div, TC, OCT HB 
North Africa Misc Data — Sicily; II Corps. Rpt of 
Opns, App. "'C"; and Wheeler (ed.). The Road to Vic- 
lory, I, 87-88. 

'■' See the detailed Report of Operations, May- 
August 1943, by the 1st Embarkation Group (OCT 
HB North .Africa, 1st Emb Gp). upon which this ac- 
count is based. 



196 



THE TRANSPORTATION CORPS 



place for the invasion, and the deep land- 
locked Lake Bizerte provided an excellent 
site for amphibious training. 

The 1st Embarkation Group established 
its headquarters on 8 June, barely a month 
before D Day. Lacking any precedent to 
serve as a guide, the group developed its 
own procedure. It encountered the usual 
last-minute changes, and because of secu- 
rity restrictions it was frequently forced to 
ferret out necessary information by "devi- 
ous and informal channels." Apart from 
the headquarters staff, the 105 officers and 
682 enlisted men of the unit were divided 
into three detachments to supervise oper- 
ations at the three loading areas on Lake 
Bizerte. These three sites had been selected 
with a view to insuring protected waters, 
an adequate road net, the least possible 
construction, sufficient suitable space 
ashore for assembly, and a minimum of 
interference with normal port and naval 
activities. 

After a preliminary exercise in moving 
troops and vehicles, the loading of supplies 
began on 28 June. Difficulty developed at 
once because cargo failed to arrive in the 
proper order. To meet this problem dumps 
were set up at dockside where supplies that 
could not be loaded immediately were 
stored. The trucks could thus be released 
for further use. The supply phase was 
completed on 5 July. On the same day, 
the first 6,437 assault troops marched 
aboard 47 LCI's, which sailed on 6 July. 
The remainder of the initial force em- 
barked on the following day on 5 LCI's, 
87 LCT's, 38 LST's and 2 LSI's (landing 
ships, infantry), accompanied by 1 head- 
quarters ship and 1 tug. The assault con- 
voy comprised approximately 26,000 men, 
3,732 vehicles, and 6,676 long tons of 
supplies. 

The third American contingent, the 



Dime subtask force, was built around the 
reinforced 1st Infantry Division. Because 
the harbor at Oran was crowded, the as- 
sault units were loaded at the British port 
of Algiers. According to the Naval Com- 
mander, Western Task Force, the main 
difficulty arose from "the absence of an 
authoritative central agency with a com- 
plete knowledge of all loading plans, pri- 
orities, etc., and capable of rendering deci- 
sions." '" Various American and British 
organizations attempted to exercise con- 
trol but none saw the entire picture. The 
transport quartermasters were plagued by 
frequent changes in the loading plans, and 
the ships were crowded with barracks bags 
and similar items not essential to the 
assault.^' Despite these drawbacks, the 
19,251 troops of this contingent were 
finally embarked at Algiers aboard 8 com- 
bat loaders, 15 LST's, 19 LCI's (L) and 2 
LSI's (S). Like the assault units for Joss, 
they carried maintenance for 7 days plus 
2^3 units of fire. ^- 

With the loading completed, the three 
U.S. subtask forces sailed for Sicily under 
strong naval escort. The landings, which 
began in the early morning hours of 
lOJuly 1943, were preceded by airborne 
assaults and naval gunfire. At the last mo- 
ment the weather worsened. A high wind 
and rough seas hampered the invaders. 
Fortunately, the elements also threw the 
defenders off guard. The 45th Division, 
landing near Scoglitti, was hit the hardest 
by wind and sea, but its landing was vir- 
tually unopposed. Near Gela, the 1st Divi- 
sion met heavy enemy opposition at some 
beaches but very little at others. Around 
Licata, the 3d Division ran into enemy 



'" WNTF Action Rpt, Sicilian Campais^n, p. '.VI. 
" Ihid., pp. 32 and 47. 

'- Seventh Arniv Rj^t ofOpns Pt. II, G-\ Rpt, pp. 
E-3, E- 13, and E-14. 



SICILY AND ITALY 



197 



counterfire at only a few points. Because 
of Allied air superiority, shipping losses 
from enemy aircraft were surprisingly 
light.'' 

Beach and Port Activities 

Once ashore, the American forces faced 
the difficult task of establishing a satisfac- 
tory supply system. Adverse weather at 
first delayed discharge. The principal 
task, however, was to prevent confusion 
and congestion on the beaches, since sup- 
plies and equipment soon were being un- 
loaded faster than they could be forwarded 
to dumps or to troops. The most critical 
period was from about noon of D Day to 
the night of D plus 1 when the Americans 
had begun to advance inland and the 
enemy air attacks were most determined. 

Chaotic conditions continued on all the 
beaches until D plus 3. Although inexperi- 
enced personnel, an absence of effective 
control measures, a lack of suitable exit 
areas, and a grave shortage of vehicles 
contributed to the congestion, the main 
handicap was a shortage of labor for cargo 
discharge and beach clearance. Supplies 
were piled high in hopeless disorder, and 
enemy strafing attacks caused frequent 
fires. 

Initially, each subtask force set up 
beach dumps. Each force contained sig- 
nal, ordnance, medical, and DUKW units, 
as well as a naval beach battalion, but no 
port units. In Sicily the shore groups at- 
tempted many tasks, including combat 
duty, for which they had not been trained. 
As a result, their efforts to fulfill their basic 
mission were scattered and not very effec- 
tive. During the assault phase, in fact, the 
unloading was completed only because of 
the help of naval working parties from the 
transports and prisoners of war. ^^ 



In time the difficulties of the Engineer 
shore groups were overcome. Conditions 
improved most rapidly on the beaches in 
the Joss area, where the U.S. Navy had 
stationed three able and effective beach- 
masters. In the Dime area some beaches 
had to be closed temporarily because of 
enemy shelling. The most undesirable 
beaches were those near Scoglitti, where 
the Cent force had to contend with a high 
surf, huge sand dunes, and no suitable 
exits to the hinterland. ^^ During the first 
three days, 10-12 July inclusive, the fol- 
lowing results were achieved in the land- 
ing of men and materiel over the assault 
beaches in Sicily: "' 

Cargo 
Area Personnel (DWT) f'ehicles 

Total 66, 285 17, 766 7, 396 

Cent (Scoglitti) 22, 654 7, 801 2, 179 

Dime (Gela) 23,161 3,351 1,465 

Joss (Licata) 20,470 6,614 3,752 

The newly devised 2 '/2-ton DUKW was 
amazingly successful in landing mainte- 
nance supplies.^' It could deliver directly 
from ship to dump thereby eliminating 
double handling of cargo at the beaches. 
Because the Seventh Army did not have 
enough trucks, the DUKW frequently was 



^''' CinC's Dispatch, Sicilian Campaign, pp. 12-13, 
20, 23-25. See also Howard M. Smyth, Sicily: The 
Surrender of Italy, Ch. IV. 

^^ Seventh Army Rpt of Opns, Pt. II, Engr Sec, 
Annex 12. Cf. Hist of Preparation for Mvmt of 45th 
Div, Vol. IV, Sec. II, Tab F. 

4-. WNTF Action Rpt, Sicilian Campaign, pp. 55- 
57, 59, 61; Hist of Preparation for Mvmt of 45th Div, 
Vol. IV, Sec. II, Tab F, G-4 Rpt. 

^" Seventh Army Rpt of Opns, Pt. II, G-4 Rpt, pp. 
E-15 and E-16. Total of vehicles has been corrected. 

'" In addition to DUKW's, LCT's were used exten- 
sively. The average rate of cargo discharge in long 
tons per hour was 13. 1 tons for the LCT, 10.3 tons 
for the DUKW. Hist Red, OCT AFHQ NATOUSA, 
activation to 31 Oct 43, Tab AL, Trans Notes, par. 
Ill, OCT HB North Africa. 



198 



THE TRANSPORTATION CORPS 



diverted from its proper ship-to-shore orbit 
and driven far inland, thus restricting its 
availability for cargo discharge. In several 
instances DUKW's capsized and sank be- 
cause of overloading. Despite limited car- 
rying capacity and the constant problem 
of maintenance, the advantages of the 
DUKW far outweighed its shortcomings.^* 

By D plus 4, the initial beachhead of 
the Seventh Army had been secured. The 
first few days in Sicily showed that, given 
good weather, air and naval support, and 
sufficient small ships, landing craft, and 
DUKW's, a fairly large force could be 
maintained over captured beaches. The 
fear that the beaches would deteriorate 
rapidly under heavy traffic proved ground- 
less.''' Nevertheless, ports were necessary 
to provide for continued and growing sup- 
ply needs. Licata was captured and opened 
to Allied craft on D Day, and on 16 July 
Porto Empedocle was taken. At Licata, 
Companies A and B of the 382d Port Bat- 
talion, supplementing their C rations by 
raids on local tomato and melon patches, 
feverishly unloaded subsistence, water, 
gasoline, and ammunition from LST's. 
Since these ports lacked the capacity to 
support the Seventh Army by themselves, 
beach maintenance was still necessary. "' 

By 19July 1943, the 1st Engineer Spe- 
cial Brigade had relieved the division 
commanders of responsibility for cargo 
discharge and over-the-beach mainte- 
nance in the American sector. With only 
modest shore facilities, the small ports and 
beaches on the southern coast received 
104,134 long tons of cargo during the 
period 10-31 July. Of this total, Licata 
accounted for 37,766 long tons, Gela for 
35,310, Porto Empedocle for 17,305, and 
Scoglittifor 13,753.^' 

The capture of Palermo on 22 July 1943 
gave the U.S. Seventh Army its first deep- 



water port capable of accepting cargo 
ships direct from the United States. In 
peacetime a thriving commercial center 
and later an important Italian naval base, 
Palermo normally afforded ample berth- 
ing space for ocean-going vessels. Its pro- 
tected harbor had four large piers and 
excellent rail and highway facilities. Re- 
peated air and naval bombardment, how- 
ever, had wrought terrific destruction, 
leaving the water front a tangled mass of 
upturned and blackened hulls, spars, and 
funnels. The Americans found 44 vessels 
of various types sunk in the channel and 
at the piers and the port reduced to about 
30 percent of its normal capacity.' ' 

Reconstruction in the port area was 
begun by Seventh Army engineers on 
23 July, chiefly to furnish berths for land- 
ing craft and coasters and ramps for 
DUKW's. Removal of debris, the filling of 
bomb craters, and preparation of port exits 
were given primary consideration. One 
useful expedient, first employed at Pa- 
lermo, was to build ramps over sunken 
vessels lying alongside the piers so as to 
obtain additional berthing space. The ex- 



^'' Rpt, Operation of 2!'1?-ton Amphibious Truck 
(DUKW) in the Sicilian Campaign, OCT HB North 
Africa Sicily — Misc; Seventh Army Rpt of Opns, Pt. 
II, Engr Rpt, p. 1-17. 

' ■ Hist Red, OCT AFHQ NATOUSA, activation 
to 3 1 Oct 43, Tab AL, Notes on Working of Sicilian 
Beaches, pars. 2, 38, 50, OCT HB North Africa. 

■'" WNTF Action Rpt, Sicilian Campaign, pp. 65, 
68; Seventh Army Rpt of Opns, Pt. II, G-4 Rpt, p. 
E-12; Hist, 382cl Port Bn, 16Jun 42-May 44, AG 
Opns RptsTCBN-382-0.1 (29991). 

'' Scoglitti closed on 17 July and Gela ceased to be 
important by 28 July. Licata and Porto Empedocle, 
which had good rail and highway connections, were 
utilized well into August 1943. See Seventh Army Rpt 
of Opns, Pt. II, G-4 Rpt, p. E-15. 

- On the Palermo port situation, see CinC's Dis- 
patch, Sicilian Campaign, pp. 28-29; WNTF Action 
Rpt, Sicilian Cami^aign, pp. 68-69; and Seventh 
Army Rj)! of 0|)ns. Pt.'ll, G-4 Rpt, p. E-12 and Engr 
Rpt, p. 1-1. 



SICILY AND ITALY 



199 



perience gained here later proved valuable 
in reconstructing other war-torn ports in 
Italy and France. The first ships to enter 
Palermo harbor were six coasters. They 
came on 28 July 1943, carrying essential 
supplies heretofore trucked overland from 
the south coast. On 1 August the 10th 
Port began operating at Palermo, remain- 
ing there until the following summer. 

After Palermo was opened, several tem- 
porary beach supply points were estab- 
lished along the northern coast for the 
support of the American troops advancing 
toward Messina. Beginning on 1 August 
supply points were set up, first at Termini 
Imerese, then at Torremuzza beach near 
San Stefano, and finally at Brolo beach 
and Barcellona beach, to which supplies 
were moved by rail, truck, and craft. At 
times water transport was the only way to 
insure prompt supply for combat units, 
since the rail line was only partly open 
and the coastal road at one point had been 
blown from the face of the cliff. Urgently 
needed rations, ammunition, and gasoline 
were delivered to the beach points by 
landing craft, coasters, and schooners 
from the south coast, Palermo, and di- 
rectly from North Africa.'^ 

With the fall of Messina on 17 August 
1943, enemy resistance collapsed and the 
island was completely occupied. The 
build-up and maintenance continued, and 
soon the harbor at Palermo became so 
congested with shipping that cargo dis- 
charge lagged. The original supply plan 
had called for five convoys from the 
United States (UGS-11 through UGS- 
15), consisting of 57 ships with 347,237 
long tons of cargo, all scheduled for dis- 
charge in Sicily between 19 July and 
8 September 1943. The discharge sched- 
ule was not met. All told, during this 
period 64,653 tons were discharged at the 



small ports and beaches on the southern 
coast, and 187,882 tons were landed at 
Palermo, leaving a backlog of 94,702 
tons.'' 

Port activity at Palermo was limited 
until the harbor had been cleared of ob- 
structions. Tons of rubble also had to be 
removed from the devastated port area. 
As late as 29 August 1943 this once busy 
seaport had been restored to only 60 per- 
cent of its normal capacity. Apart from 
the extensive destruction, a major factor 
in the shipping congestion at Palermo was 
the Army's inability to effect the prompt 
forwarding of discharged cargo because of 
insufficient service troops, particularly 
truck drivers, and delay and difficulty in 
setting up a satisfactory system for deliv- 
ery to the dumps. 

Despite the foregoing factors that pre- 
vented optimum cargo discharge, U.S. 
Army engineer and transportation troops 
were remarkably successful in restoring 
order from chaos at Palermo. During the 
period 28 July to 31 August 1943 this port 
received 48 vessels, consisting of 5 troop 
carriers, 32 Liberty ships, and 1 1 coasters. 
In the same period a total of 120,706 long 
tons of cargo was discharged. The average 
daily discharge was 3,658 long tons, with 
a peak of 5,718 long tons on 12 August. 
U.S. Army cargo continued to pour into 
Palermo long after the Sicilian campaign 
had ended. ^^ 

Supplying the Seventh Army by Rail 

In Sicily, as in North Africa, the dis- 
tribution of men and materiel to the in- 
terior was effected principally by railway 

5'. WNTF Action Rpt, Sicilian Campaign, p. 69; 
Seventh Army Rpt of Opns. Pt. II, G-4 Rpt, p. E-2. 

" Seventh Army Rpt of Opns, Pt. II, G-4 Rpt, p. 
E-13. 

■>■' Ibid., Pt. II, G-4 Rpt, pp. E-2, E-21, and E-22. 



200 



THE TRANSPORTATION CORPS 



and motor transport. Although only part 
of the Sicilian trackage was taken over by 
the U.S. Army, it was important in ad- 
vancing the supply line. A measure of the 
achievement in rail transportation is 
found in the statistics covering freight car- 
ried during the campaign."' For the 
period 12 July to 1 September 1943, in- 
clusive, in the combined southern and 
central districts, which bore the brunt of 
the initial assault, the heaviest movement 
was from Gela to Licata and from Licata 
northward to Caltanissetta. Within this 
area a total of 1 12,406 net tons was moved 
by rail. In the northern district, where the 
railway did not become available until 
late July, the most tonnage was lifted on 
the coastal line running eastward from 
Palermo to San Stefano. There, for the 
period 28 July to 1 September 1943, in- 
clusive, a total of 6 1 ,6 1 7 net tons was car- 
ried by rail. 

The task of running the Sicilian rail- 
ways for the U.S. Seventh Army was as- 
signed to the 727th Railway Operating 
Battalion, which had gained valuable ex- 
perience in North Africa. An advance de- 
tachment landed at Licata on 12 July, 
where it made a reconnaissance of the 
railway facilities, organized native rail- 
waymen, and located equipment. On the 
following day approximately 400 tons of 
supplies were sent forward by rail to the 
3d Division. By the end of July the entire 
battalion had arrived and was busily or- 
ganizing and directing American railway 
operations. " 

Principal operating difficulties encoun- 
tered by the 727th stemmed from bombed 
and sabotaged trackage, tunnels, bridges, 
yards, stations, and locomotives, and in- 
adequate signal communications. From 
the start, too, trains were delayed for lack 
of water, and various expedients were 



adopted, including delivery by water 
trucks and cars and in five-gallon blitz 
cans. Nevertheless, with the co-operation 
of Italian train crews, the 727th rapidly 
restored rail service in southern and cen- 
tral Sicily, and soon the battalion was de- 
livering more tonnage to the railheads 
than could be promptly unloaded. The 
first train, carrying approximately 400 
tons of supplies, moved eastward from 
Palermo on 29 July. With Italian help the 
tracks soon were opened along the north- 
ern coast as far as Cefalu and, later, to 
San Stefano. 

Throughout the Sicilian campaign the 
727th Railway Operating Battalion sta- 
tioned men at strategic points to organize 
and utilize native railway workers, open 
rail lines, effect repairs, and keep supplies 
moving from ports to railheads. Working 
day and night in strange surroundings, 
with strange equipment, and frequently 
without regard for personal safety, the 
men of the 727th won warm praise from 
General Patton. Its island mission accom- 
plished, the unit began the trek into Italy 
in October. 

Highway Operations in Sialy 

Planning for highway operations in 
Sicily began in April 1943.'''' A complete 
study was made of the Sicilian road net, 
and action was initiated to obtain essen- 
tial highway equipment and supplies. The 
procurement of sufficient qualified per- 



■• Ibid., Pt. II, G-4 Rpt, pp. E-16-19. 

■ On the- 727th in Sicily, sec its Historical Record, 
July-October 1943, (OCT HB North Africa Ry 
Units), and its published history, The 727th Railway 
Operaliuii Bnllnlion in World War II (New York: Sim- 
mons-Boardman Publishing Corp. [1948]), pp. 35-37. 

'^ Tliis section is based upon Seventh Army R])t of 
Opns, Pt. II, G-4 Rpt, pp. E-21-37, and Engr Rpt, 
p. 1-3. 



SICILY AND ITALY 



201 



sonnel proved difficult, especially for 
manning a proposed traffic control organ- 
ization. Early in July the creation of the 
provisional 6623d Regulating Company 
of 50 officers and 200 enlisted men, how- 
ever, solved the problem of a traffic con- 
trol unit. The 6623d also furnished part 
of the staff and all of the operating per- 
sonnel for a Highway Division under the 
Transportation Branch of G-4, U.S. 
Seventh Army. 

A small advance party of the Highway 
Division landed on the beach east of Li- 
cata on 14 July. On the following day it 
began operating from Seventh Army 
headquarters at Gela, making recom- 
mendations on main and alternative sup- 
ply routes for the American sector. Or- 
ganic motor transport was utilized to haul 
supplies from beach and port to dump 
during the first week of the campaign, but 
thereafter this task was assigned to the 
trucks and DUKW's of the 1st Engineer 
Special Brigade. Late in July additional 
highway troops arrived. Various Quarter- 
master truck units also debarked, but 
highway operations were handicapped 
continually by a shortage of drivers. 

After the capture of Palermo, the High- 
way Division moved to that city, complet- 
ing its transfer on 26 July. A traffic circu- 
lation plan was developed immediately, 
and the traffic engineer was active in the 
selection of depot and dump sites and sup- 
ply routes in the Palermo area. On 28 July 
motor freight activity was inaugurated at 
the port with 69 trucks and 19 DUKW's, 
under the operational control of a detach- 
ment of the 6623d Regulating Company. 
Lack of familiarity with the city and in- 
adequate route and cargo markings, 
coupled with the blackout, were among 
early difficulties. A road patrol of three 
officers constantly roamed the city, direct- 



ing drivers to destinations and expediting 
truck turnaround. By 1 August a total of 
eleven dumps had been designated, lo- 
cated at distances from .3 miles to 10.3 
miles from the main port gate. Within a 
month the first day's record of 75 trucks 
delivering a total of 802.3 tons had soared 
to 230 trucks carrying a total of 4,641.9 
tons. Contributing to greater efficiency 
was the assignment to the Highway Divi- 
sion of centralized dispatch control of all 
vehicles of Quartermaster truck units as- 
signed or attached to the Seventh Army. 
Orders for trucks at shipside were placed 
through a central dispatching office and 
filled from the motor pool. 

For the movement of supplies from 
Palermo, the Highway Division organized 
motor convoys, establishing the procedure, 
routes, and schedules. With the capture 
and repair of rail lines along the northern 
coast, an effort was made to reduce move- 
ment by highway. Instead, dispatch was 
made by truck from forward railheads at 
Campofelice, Cefalu, and San Stefano, 
the last being as far eastward as the rail- 
way was made operative. From two to five 
truck companies operated from these rail- 
heads, delivering to local dumps or to ad- 
vanced supply points. The peak of high- 
way activity was reached early in August, 
declining sharply thereafter. 

In general, the main roads of Sicily 
were in excellent condition. Demolished 
highway bridges caused no serious diffi- 
culty, since they were easily bypassed. 
Towns and villages, with their sharp 
curves and narrow streets, were often bot- 
tlenecks for vehicular traffic. Within more 
densely populated areas military trans- 
port had to contend with heavy civilian 
traffic. To prevent the natives' carts and 
bicycles from interfering on main supply 
routes, the Highway Division prepared a 



202 



THE TRANSPORTATION CORPS 



set of regulations for civilian traffic, which 
was issued by the American Military 
Government (AMGOT). 

Although truck, train, and ship bore 
the brunt of the load, the Seventh Army 
also made use of animal transport. Be- 
cause of the rough terrain of Sicily, ap- 
proximately 4,000 pack animals — horses, 
mules, and donkeys — had to be employed. 
Variously procured within the theater by 
capture, purchase, and hire, these animals 
were employed by the troops for both 
combat and supply missions. The average 
pack weighed from 250 to 275 pounds and 
consisted of water, rations, signal equip- 
ment, and ammunition. During the cam- 
paign about 1,500 animals were lost 
through enemy action. ^^ 

The U.S. Army's experience in Sicily 
demonstrated that all types of transporta- 
tion were necessary in invaded areas, and 
that no one alone could meet the need. 
This lesson was repeated in subsequent 
activity on the Italian mainland. 

Transportation in the Italian Campaign 

The brief Sicilian campaign of thirty- 
eight days formed the prelude to the 
longer and much more exacting cam- 
paign in Italy. Several factors — notably 
the stiff resistance and superb delaying 
tactics of the enemy, the difficult terrain, 
adverse weather conditions, and inade- 
quate transportation — accounted for the 
slow and painful progress of the Allied 
forces up the Italian boot. 

The belief that with the overthrow of 
Mussolini war-weary Italy could soon be 
eliminated from the conflict entered into 
the Allied decision of late July 1943 to 
launch an amphibious assault against the 
Italian mainland. At that time the U.S. 
Fifth Army, under General Clark, was di- 



rected to develop plans for the seizure of 
Naples and the nearby airfields with a 
view to preparing a firm base for further 
offensive action. The target date for this 
operation, known as Avalanche, was set 
for early September. The ground forces 
initially made available to Fifth Army for 
Avalanche were the American VI Corps 
and the British 10 Corps. D Day was fi- 
nally fixed for 9 September 1943, since 
the moon would set well before H Hour 
on that date and a sufficient number of 
serviceable landing craft would be avail- 
able by then. The site for the landings 
would be the area skirting the Gulf of 
Salerno, to the south of Naples, principally 
because it lay within the range of Allied 
air support from bases in Sicily.''" 

Mounting the Assault Forces 

Loading the troops, weapons, and sup- 
plies for the attack on Salerno was com- 
plicated by the critical shipping situation 
and the congested condition of the North 
African ports. Of the huge armada as- 
sembled for the assault, a total of 90 ships 
and landing craft had been assigned to lift 
38,179 troops and 3,204 vehicles for the 
U.S. VI Corps.'"' The main portion of the 
American contingent was loaded at Oran, 
that of the British at Bizerte. Supporting 
convoys were dispatched from both North 
Africa and Sicily. 

■" Ibid., Pt. II, G-4 Rpt, p. E-37. 

'■" Fifth Army History, Pt. I, pp. 18-20, OCMH 
Files; Mark W. Clark, Calculated Risk (New York: 
Harper & Brothers, 1950), pp. 174-76. 

'■' Including escort vessels, the Western Naval Task 
Force, which made the assault landing, comprised 642 
ships and landing craft, under the command of Vice 
Adm. Henry Kent Hewitt. See Action Rpt, Western 
Naval Task Force, The Italian Campaign, Salerno 
Landing, September-October 1943 (hereafter cited as 
WNTF Action Rpt, Salerno Landing), pp. 161 and 
204, AC; Analysis Files 6 2.009/14 (9727). 



SICILY AND ITALY 



203 



American and British plans were co- 
ordinated by the U.S. Chief of Transpor- 
tation, AFHQ, through his Operational 
Planning Branch. The Transportation 
Officer, SOS, NATOUSA, was responsi- 
ble for preparing prestowage plans. His 
staff co-operated closely with the base sec- 
tion commanders, whose personnel super- 
vised the loading of the troops and cargo 
in accordance with priorities set by the 
task force commanders. Transportation 
officers were bedeviled by frequent though 
necessary changes in troop lists, loading 
priorities, and allocations of ships and 
craft. Despite the usual last-minute flurry 
of loading, unloading, and reloading, by 
5 September 1943 the bulk of the U.S. VI 
Corps had sailed from Oran for the ren- 
dezvous off the Salerno beaches.''" 

By midnight of 8-9 September the en- 
tire task force had reached the assembly 
area. The weather was clear. Under cover 
of darkness the troops clambered down 
the nets into assault craft. Because of en- 
emy mine fields and reportedly strong 
coastal defenses, the troopships anchored 
about twelve miles offshore, thereby slow- 
ing the unloading operations and adding 
to the discomfort of the attackers aboard 
the pitching and rolling invasion fleet. 
From the transportation point of view two 
important immediate objectives were the 
port of Salerno and, about six miles in- 
land, the rail and highway center of 
Battipaglia.''* 

Beach and Port Operations 

The Salerno landings were preceded by 
stepped-up strategic bombing of Italian 
transportation facilities. Railway bridges, 
in particular, were singled out for destruc- 
tion from the air. The resultant damage, 
together with the subsequent demolition 



activities of the retreating enemy, were to 
present the Allies with the difficult task of 
rehabilitating and operating badly bat- 
tered ports and railways.''' Although the 
capture of Naples was set for D plus 12 — a 
target date that later proved overly opti- 
mistic — plans were made for over-the- 
beach supply for an entire month if 
necessary. 

Under heavy enemy fire on 9 Septem- 
ber 1943 the American VI Corps, spear- 
headed by the reinforced 36th Infantry 
Division, surged ashore at four beaches 
near the site of the ancient Greek city of 
Paestum. Discharge of vehicles and sup- 
plies began shortly after the troops landed, 
and before the close of the day about 
2,000 tons of supplies had been unloaded. 
Apart from enemy action, the principal 
hindrance to prompt cargo discharge and 
beach clearance was insufficient man- 
power and a shortage of cargo trucks. 
Both service troops and vehicles had been 
limited in number because of limited 
shipping space. Beach personnel on occa- 
sion had to be withdrawn for combat 
duty, and being given no relief the drivers 
worked until exhausted.''^ 



''- For a somewhat critical view of the loading at 
Oran, which was supervised by the 3d Port, see 
WNTF Action Rpt, Salerno Landing, pp. 93-95. 
Neither the 3d Port at Oran nor the 8th Port at 
Bizerte has left any detailed account of the loading 
for the Salerno landings. 

"-■■ Fifth Army History, Pt. I. pp. 27, 31-32, and 
Map4,OCMH Files. 

" Craven and Gate, AAF , II, 554-58. General 
Gray subsequently questioned the wisdom of the 
wholesale bombing of railway tracks and bridges in 
Italy. See his Memo for GAO AAI, 20 Jul 44, sub: 
Bombing of RRs, and atchd corres, OGT HB North 
Africa MRS Misc. 

''' On beach operations, see Observers Notes on 
Italian Campaign, 25 Aug-7 Oct 43, OGT 370.2 Italy 
Campaign Rpts; and Report of SOS Observers of 
Operation Avalanche, in Hist Rpt, Trans Sec SOS 
NATOUSA, 31 Oct 43, Incl 1, OGT HB North 
Africa. 



204 



THE TRANSPORTATION CORPS 



The effective employment of various 
types of landing craft (LST's, LCT's, 
LCM's, LSI's, and LCI's) and of the am- 
phibious DUKW's contributed materially 
to successful discharge. The versatile 
LST's transported troops, tanks, and ve- 
hicles directly to the shore, spanning the 
last water gap to the beach by attached 
ponton landing ramps. Some vessels dis- 
charged as much as 80 percent of their 
cargo into LCT's, which shuttled between 
ship and shore. As in Sicily, DUKW's 
proved useful, landing not only personnel 
and supplies but also light artillery and 
antitank guns.'''' 

Enemy shellfire on D Day forced tem- 
porary abandonment of all activity on 
Yellow Beach and Blue Beach in the 
American sector. Congestion then devel- 
oped on Red and Green Beaches. Work- 
ing parties had to be sent ashore from the 
transports to supplement the insufficient 
labor. The first shore dump, located about 
a quarter of a mile inland from Red 
Beach, began functioning on D plus 1. 
Additional dumps were established by D 
plus 4, and thereafter beach clearance was 
satisfactory.*^*^ 

The small port of Salerno, entered on 
D Day and taken shortly thereafter, could 
accommodate only a few coasters and 
landing craft, and its usefulness was 
limited by enemy interference. As a result, 
heavy reliance had to be placed upon 
beach operations. At first, the beach or- 
ganization consisted of the reinforced 53 1st 
Engineer Shore Regiment and a beach 
party of the U.S. Navy 4th Beach Battal- 
ion. As the need arose, the men of the 
531st, veterans of North Africa and Sicily, 
took time out for combat assignments such 
as cleaning out a nest of German snipers 
in the old Tower of Paestum.''** 

The first port battalion to function in 



the Salerno area was the 389th, which ar- 
rived with the assault convoy. The bulk of 
its personnel, 18 officers and 853 enlisted 
men, had been distributed among the 
combat loaders to assist in cargo dis- 
charge. Working around the clock, by the 
afternoon of 10 September the 389th had 
unloaded 5,635 tons of general cargo and 
1,630 vehicles from 18 vessels of the D- 
Day convoy. This task completed, the bat- 
talion was put ashore, where it was 
attached to the 531st Engineer Shore Reg- 
iment. After establishing a bivouac, the 
389th continued to discharge cargo from 
incoming vessels. Repeated enemy bomb- 
ing and strafing caused many casualties, 
and a few men "cracked up" under the 
strain.''-' 

About a week after D Day it became 
apparent that the task of over-the-beach 
supply had grown beyond the capability 
of the existing organization, and that at 
least one more port battalion was needed. 
On 17 September 1943 a detachment of 
the 6th Port arrived to take charge. The 
531st Engineer Shore Regiment, however, 
continued to assist in beach operations. 
Newly arrived port personnel, including a 
Negro unit, the 480th Port Battalion, 
bivouacked amid the impressive ruins of 
Paestum. Italian labor was recruited 
nearby and brought to the beaches by 
truck and train. With this larger force the 



"" See WNTF Action Rpt. Salerno Landing; and 
SOS observers rpt cited n. 65. 

"' See WNTF Action Rpt, Salerno Landing, pp. 
150-52; and SOS observers rpt cited n. 65 pp. 4, 6, 
10. 

'■'' WNTF Action Rpt, Salerno Landing, passim; 
Military Intelligence Division, War Department, 
Sdlertio, American Operations from the Beaches to the Vol- 
lurno (9 September 6 October 1943), AMERICAN 
FORGES IN ACTION SERIES (Washington, 1944), 
pp. 25-26. 

'■■' Hist, 389th Port Bn, 1 May 43-30 Apr 44, OCT 
HB North Africa Misc Data — Italy. 



SICILY AND ITALY 



205 



daily cargo discharge soared. As the 
month drew to a close, rough seas pre- 
vented continuous operation. On the night 
of 28-29 September a sudden gale blew 
several craft up on the beach, a coaster 
went aground, and cargo discharge was 
halted for two days. 

Because of delay in the capture of 
Naples, the Salerno beaches were used 
longer than originally intended, and dis- 
charge of supply was therefore at the 
mercy of the elements. Naples fell on 1 
October, and thereafter over-the-beach 
discharge became less imperative, ceasing 
altogether on 13 October 1943.'" 

Port Activity at Naples 

At Naples Allied bombers and Axis 
demolition teams had achieved a new 
high in destruction. An advance party of 
Fifth Army personnel, consisting of fifty 
officers and enlisted men under the com- 
mand of General Pence, entered the city 
on 2 October and prepared to open the 
port. With the party came its transporta- 
tion officer, Lt. Col. (later Col.) Robert H. 
Clarkson, and a detachment of the 6th 
Port. The original plan called for joint 
American and British operation under a 
British port commandant, with Colonel 
Clarkson as his deputy. 

Within the port area of Naples, Clark- 
son and his men found utter desolation. 
At the principal pier, where the luxury 
liner Rex had formerly docked, nothing 
was operative. Buildings had been blasted, 
roads were blocked with rubble, and fires, 
which the Germans had ignited, were 
still burning in the piles of coal. No part 
of the port or its equipment had escaped 
damage."' 

Wherever possible, the gantry cranes 
had been dynamited so that they would 



fall into the water. Several large Italian 
naval vessels, including one cruiser, lay on 
their sides. A capsized hospital ship with 
Red Cross markings lent a splash of color 
to the otherwise somber array of masts, 
booms, funnels, and cranes protruding 
from the oil-slicked harbor. The ap- 
proaches to every pier and berth were 
jammed with partially and totally sub- 
merged hulks. A survey of 7 October 1943 
disclosed only three deepwater berths for 
Liberties, three berths for coasters, and 
fourteen anchorages for ships within the 
harbor that could be worked with landing 
craft, lighters, or DUKW's.' " 

According to the same survey, the only 
available cranes were the crawlers brought 
in by the Americans. Barges and lighters 
were urgently needed. Fortunately, Colo- 
nel Clarkson was able to obtain enough 
cargo nets, pallets, fork-lift trucks, and 
cranes from Palermo. Since Naples had 
no electric power, the dynamos of three 
Italian submarines were used to furnish 
electricity for port operations. Rail con- 
nections had been broken, and most of the 
locomotives and rolling stock had been 
either destroyed or damaged. The princi- 
pal railway tunnel was entirely obstructed 
by the wreckage of two trains that had 
been rammed into each other head on. 

Rehabilitation of the port facilities was 
achieved through a tremendous co-opera- 
tive effort. American and British naval 



'" Hist, 6th Port, III, 3-5 and Exhibit B-3, OCT 
HB Oversea Ports; Interv, Sidney T. Mathews with 
Brig Gen Ralph H. Tate (Ret.), former G-4 of Fifth 
Army, 19 Jan 49, OCMH Files. 

'^ On the destruction and subsequent port recon- 
struction, see Hist, 6th Port, HI, 7-12, OCT HB 
Oversea Ports; and the copiously illustrated special re- 
port. Rehabilitation of the Port of Naples, prepared 
by the Peninsular Base Section (c. May 1944), OCT 
HB North Africa PBS. 

'- Hist, Trans Sec SOS NATOUSA, 31 Oct 43, 
Incl 2, OCT HB North Africa. 



206 



THE TRANSPORTATION CORPS 



units, including divers and mine sweepers, 
cleared the harbor. The 1051st Port Con- 
struction and Repair Group, aided by 
other engineer units, removed rubble and 
debris to permit the operation of vehicles 
in the port area, razed tottering structures, 
and reconstructed berths and quays. The 
6th Port operated the port and scheduled 
the rehabilitation program. The 703d 
Railway Grand Division restored rail 
service, repairing the yards, track, and 
rolling stock.' ■ 

The reconstruction of the port was 
marked by a high degree of ingenuity. 
Clearing the most readily operable berths 
naturally received top priority. Small 
hulks were cut up, but the removal or sal- 
vage of the larger ships blocking the piers 
would have entailed excessive time and 
effort. Therefore, superstructures of the 
capsized vessels were removed and ramps 
were built over the hulks, in effect impro- 
vising new docks at which ships could be 
moored for discharge. Considerable steel 
was salvaged on the spot, but nearly all 
heavy timbers had to be imported, since 
the Italians had very little wood for con- 
struction. Various types of ramps were de- 
vised to fit the situation. For example, a 
long personnel ramp, connected to the 
shore by a steel span, was attached to the 
curved hull of the capsized Italian cruiser 
to provide a complete pier for troop de- 
barkation. In another instance, after a 
disabled tanker had been sunk on an even 
keel the entire superstructure was cut 
down to the level of the main deck, which 
was then covered with a wooden plat- 
form so as to form a full-length berth for 
a Liberty ship.' ' 

From the beginning, local labor was 
employed extensively at Naples. As an in- 
centive, native workers were served nour- 
ishing food and received extra pay for 



night work. In the last quarter of 1943, 
the Italians in the port area earned a half 
million dollars — no mean stimulant for 
the stricken local economy. During this 
period the 6th Port had a daily average 
employment of 4,200 common laborers, 
729 stevedores, 1,368 contract laborers, 
and 1,200 classified workers, including in- 
terpreters, clerks, typists, and stenog- 
raphers. 

The 6th Port began cargo discharge at 
Naples with the 684th and 687th Port 
Companies of the 389th Port Battalion. 
By the close of 1943 it had been joined by 
five more port battalions. Still other port 
battalions were obtained from Sicily and 
North Africa. An initial shortage of man- 
power was eased by converting former 
Italian infantry regiments into port units, 
which worked under American super- 
vision. Discharge from landing craft com- 
menced on 3 October, and the first Lib- 
erty, the Elihu Tale, docked on the follow- 
ing day. Among the earliest vessels were 
those that had been loaded by the 6th 
Port at Casablanca in mid-August 1943 
and held within the theater until the cap- 
ture of Naples.'"' 

At first, ship's gear and mobile cranes 
discharged cargo, either at such berths as 
were open or from anchorages offshore 
into barges, landing craft, and DUKW's. 
In October 1943 offshore discharge (89,- 
358 long tons) actually exceeded discharge 
at the piers (58,887 long tons). There- 
after, as more berths became available 



' ' For a convenient summary, see Rpt, OCT, Uti- 
lization of Vessels Employed by U.S. Army in the 
Supply of Theaters from United States, 16-30 Jun 44, 
OCT HB Water Div Vessel Utilization Rpt. Cf 
Clark, 0/;. a/., pp. 216-18. 

""* See photographs in PBS rpt cited n. 71. pp. 1 9, 
29-31. 

' ' Hist, 6th Port, III, 9, II, 14-18, OCT HB Over- 
sea Ports; Hist, 389th Port Bn, 1 May 43-30 Apr 44, 
OCT HB North Africa Misc Data — Italy. 



SICILY AND ITALY 



207 



and winter weather limited operations, 
the amount discharged offshore dechned. 
As port reconstruction progressed, the 
total cargo discharge naturally increased. 
By 1 November 1943, when the port 
came under the complete control of the 
Americans, it had twelve Liberty, four 
coaster, and three ponton berths, plus 
three hards for landing craft. During the 
period 4 October to 31 December 1943, 
the average cargo discharged per day, in- 
cluding general cargo and vehicles, 
amounted to 13,383.5 long tons.'" 

Apart from the critical need for more 
tugs, barges, lighters, and other harbor 
craft to facilitate offshore discharge and 
the limited number of berths suitable for 
direct discharge, the early operations of 
the 6th Port at Naples were hampered by 
insufficient labor, inadequate lifting 
equipment at depots and dumps, enemy 
air raids, and adverse weather. Starting 
in mid-September 1943 the rainy season 
brought muddy roads, and loaded trucks 
sometimes bogged down. Storms, accom- 
panied by high winds and rough seas, fre- 
quently forced complete cessation of off- 
shore discharge because of the low free- 
board on loaded craft and DUKW's. In 
mid-October the weather worsened. In 
order to assure a supply of warm, pro- 
tective clothing for troops at the front. 
General Clark personally directed that 
ships containing overcoats, raincoats, 
boots, woolen clothing, and the like be 
discharged first. Detailed data for unload- 
ing these items were furnished on the 
same afternoon as requested, and the nec- 
essary action was promptly taken.'" 

Overflow tonnage at Naples was ab- 
sorbed by its satellite ports of Salerno, 
Castellammare di Stabia, and Torre An- 
nunziata. Like Naples, they were released 
from British control and were assigned to 



the 6th Port in November. Their peak 
daily discharge of 4,930 long tons was at- 
tained on 16 December 1943. Since Naples 
had only limited facilities tor troop de- 
barkation, three small personnel ports 
were opened nearby at Pozzuoli and Baia 
and on the island of Nisida. Termed craft 
ports because their shallow waters could 
only accommodate the landing craft that 
brought troops from North Africa, they 
were all situated within a three-mile 
radius and within easy marching distance 
of the staging area at Bagnoli near 
Naples.'' 

Thanks in no small measure to the 
Corps of Engineers and the Transporta- 
tion Corps, within six months devastated 
Naples was transformed into the busiest 
Allied port in the theater. Because of ex- 
tensive damage to rail facilities, port 
clearance in the early months was effected 
largely by truck, but as the railways be- 
came operative they carried a sizable por- 
tion of the load. In the peak period, 27 
February to 1 April 1944, cargo dis- 
charged totaled 591,597 long tons, of 
which 226,797 were cleared by rail and 
299,216 by truck, leaving a backlog of 
65,584 long tons.' ■' The maximum daily 
cargo discharge, 33,142 long tons, was at- 
tained on 21 April 1944. 

Among the difficulties encountered at 
Naples were strong winds and high seas, 
enemy air raids, the usual absence of 
Italian civilians on Sundays, occasional 



■'■ Hist, 6th Port, III, 14-15, OCT HB Oversea 
Ports. 

■■ Hist, Trans Sec PBS, Ch. I, OCT HB North 
Africa PBS. 

•^ Hist, 6th Port, HI, 12-13, 21, OCT HB Oversea 
Ports. Troops debarked at Naples and moved by train 
to Bagnoli so as not to deprive the port of trucks. Hist 
Red, Trans Sec PBS, 1 Dec 44, OCT HB North 
Africa PBS. 

'" Hist Red, U.S. Trans Sec AAI, 27 Feb-1 Apr 44, 
OCT HB North Africa AFHQ AAI Rpts. 



208 



THE TRANSPORTATION CORPS 



shortages of railway cars and trucks, and, 
in March 1944, a dramatic eruption of 
ashes and cinders from Mt. Vesuvius that 
interrupted rail and highway traffic. In 
general, the 6th Port made an impressive 
showing, though perhaps some of its 
claims were extravagant. ""' 

Naples remained an important U.S. 
Army supply port throughout the Italian 
campaign. Beginning in January 1944 
normal port discharge operations were 
frequently curtailed because of outloading 
for amphibious assaults, of which the first 
was for the Anzio landing. This operation 
featured preloaded supply trucks, which 
were delivered by LST to Anzio. 

An even greater burden fell upon the 
port of Naples when it helped mount the 
U.S. Seventh Army for the invasion of 
southern France (Dragoon) in mid- 
August 1944. A special group headquar- 
ters, composed of 10th Port personnel, was 
created to take charge of this undertaking. 
All task force units were required to fur- 
nish complete data, including size and 
weight, for all equipment and vehicles. 
The loading was based upon a Seventh 
Army priority list. The units were assigned 
to specific concentration areas, from 
which they were called forward as desired 
to the embarkation points in and near 
Naples.^' 

All this activity cut sharply into the dis- 
charge capacity. Port personnel were hard 
pressed since requirements of the Fifth 
Army were still heavy, and the Seventh 
Army had taken many port and truck 
units that had to be replaced by less effi- 
cient Italian personnel. On 1 July 1944 
the 8th Port began relieving the 6th Port, 
which was slated for Marseille."*- With 
simultaneous cargo discharge and out- 
loading, the 8th Port faced a busy summer 
at Naples. 



To avert port congestion during the 
period of outloading for Dragoon, only 
essential items were discharged at Naples. 
As many vessels as possible were diverted 
to other Italian ports, reductions were 
made in the scheduled shipping to the the- 
ater from the zone of interior, and cargo 
discharge at Naples and its satellite ports 
was placed on a priority basis. Some port 
congestion was accepted as inevitable, for 
with 22 of the available 29 berths assigned 
to operational loading, only 7 berths re- 
mained for cargo discharge. While prais- 
ing the performance of the port in loading 
379 ships and craft for the assault convoy, 
the U.S. Chief of Transportation, AFHQ, 
admitted on 15 August 1944 that the 
backlog of undischarged vessels in the the- 
ater was "embarrassingly large." "*' Maxi- 
mum cargo discharge was therefore abso- 
lutely essential in order to release these 
ships for employment elsewhere.^* 

At the close of October 1944 the port 
situation again was nearly normal, since 
phased shipments to southern France had 
been completed and Leghorn opened. 
Subsequent operations were under no 
great pressure. When the Italian cam- 
paign ended on 2 May 1945, Naples and 
its satellite ports had discharged 5,7 1 1 ,417 

'^" The 382d Port Battalion reportedly discharged 
6,503 long tons of ammunition from the Liberty ship 
^achary Taylor in 24 hours. By comparison with ton- 
nages unloaded at other ports, this was an extremely 
high figure — approximately 54 long tons per hour per 
hatch. See Hist, 6th Port, IV, 17-19, OCT HB Over- 
sea Ports. 

"' See Hist Red, Trans Sec PBS, 1 Dec 44, OCT 
HB North Africa PBS. 

"'- In ten months at Naples the 6th Port discharged 
4,384,900 long tons and outloaded 967,874 long tons 
of general cargo and vehicles. Hist, 6th Port, IX, 25, 
OCT HB Oversea Ports. 

'^^ Memo, CofT AFHQ for Trans Officer PBS, 15 
Aug 44, Hq MTOUSA Trans Sec Naples Perform- 
ance PBS 1944, KCRC AGO. 

'^ Ibid.; Logistical History of NATO US A- MTOUSA, 
p. 109. 



SICILY AND ITALY 



209 



long tons of general cargo, 2,485,921 long 
tons of bulk petroleum, and 675,098 long 
tons of coal/' Other major accomplish- 
ments included the outloading of 2,140, - 
271 long tons of cargo, the embarkation 
of 1,307,919 passengers, and the debarka- 
tion of 1,768,249 personnel. 

Anzio 

The Anzio assault was developed to 
avoid a continued and painful overland 
advance by staging an amphibious land- 
ing on the west coast of Italy behind the 
enemy lines. "^'^ Throughout the planning, 
the principal restriction was the relatively 
small number of operational LST's — ap- 
proximately ninety — in the theater, most 
of which were scheduled for early with- 
drawal for use in the forthcoming invasion 
of Normandy. 

The Anzio project (Operation Shingle) 
was pushed by Prime Minister Winston 
Churchill. Eager to see Rome in Allied 
hands, he took direct action to arrange 
for the provision of sufficient landing 
craft. Fifth Army was charged with the 
preparations for launching the assault, 
with a target date as close as possible to 20 
January 1944. The immediate objective 
was to seize and secure a beachhead in 
the vicinity of Anzio. Ground forces for 
the operation were to consist of the Head- 
quarters, U.S. VI Corps, commanded by 
Maj. Gen. John P. Lucas, the veteran 
U.S. 3d Division, the British 1st Division 
from the Eighth Army front, and other 
supporting units. "*" 

Originally conceived as a subsidiary 
project, the Anzio assault ultimately de- 
veloped into a major operation. Since the 
expedition would have to be supplied by 
sea for an indefinite length of time, a pre- 
vious plan to land with maintenance for 
seven days without resupply was scrapped 



and provision made for at least thirty-five 
days. To allow for possible bad weather, 
the schedule called for supply ships to ar- 
rive every three days. Heavy equipment 
was to be forwarded by Liberty ships from 
North African ports. To save time in load- 
ing and unloading, resupply of ammuni- 
tion, packaged gasoline, and rations was 
to be accomplished by loaded trucks de- 
livered by LST's from Naples. Prime 
Minister Churchill, Admiral Sir John 
Cunningham, and Lt. Gen. Walter Bedell 
Smith all disapproved the latter scheme, 
but circumstances ultimately forced its 
adoption. ^"^ 

The Peninsular Base Section was to 
maintain the U.S. forces. Initial responsi- 
bility for supply and evacuation at the 
beachhead fell upon the Headquarters, 
U.S. VI Corps. To it was attached the 
540th Engineer Combat Regiment, which 
with accompanying U.S. Army and Navy 
personnel constituted a beach party of ap- 
proximately 4,200 men.^-' 



^' The general cargo discharged included U.S. 
military (2,796,185 long tons), British military (2,249,- 
397 long tons), French military (39,376 long tons), 
Italian ( 1 4,082 long tons), and Allied Commission, 
Italy (612,377 long tons). See Logistical History of 
NAT0USA-MT0USA,Y>p.\Q9-\Q. 

^" On the Anzio operation, see Rpt, AFHQ Allied 
Comdr's Dispatch, 8 Jan- 10 May 44. AGO Analysis 
Files 99-33.4 (12280); Historical Division, Depart- 
ment of the Army, Anzio Beachhead (22 January-25 
Mar 1944), AMERICAN FORCES IN ACTION 
SERIES (Washington, 1947); and Clark, op. at., pp. 
254-60, 283-310. See also Hist Rpt, G-4 Sec Hq Fifth 
Army, Phase IV, and Fifth Army Daily Journal, Daily 
Rpt to Gen Tate, entries for 29 Jan-2 Jun 44, AG 
Opns Rpts. 

''■ Clark, op. cit., pp. 254-60; Diary, Gen Lucas, III, 
1-7. 1 1-15, and App. 4, OCMH Files. 

^^ Fifth Army History, Pt. IV, pp. 20, 23-24; Diary, 
Lucas, III, 14 and App. 4; Clark op. cit., p. 303; In- 
terv, Sidney T. Mathews with former G-4 VI Corps, 
22 Jan 48. All in OCMH Files. 

■*■' See Rpt, 540th Engr Combat Regt, Port and 
Beach Operations at Anzio, 3 May 44, OCT HB 
North Africa Ital\- Anzio. 



210 



THE TRANSPORTATION CORPS 



The target area was the Anzio-Nettuno 
district, about thirty miles south of Rome. 
The small port of Anzio had only one 
jetty, enclosed by a breakwater 600 yards 
long. The harbor, which accommodated 
only shallow-draft vessels, was subject to 
sudden storms and heavy swells. Nettuno, 
to the east of Anzio, possessed practically 
no port facilities. Both towns, formerly 
popular seaside resorts, were tied in by 
road with the important north-south 
Highway 7. The nearby beaches, although 
of gentle slope, were flanked by offshore 
sand bars, lay exposed to the whims of the 
weather, and had awkward gradients for 
the discharge of landing craft. The pro- 
jected Allied beachhead, roughly an area 
seven miles deep and fifteen miles wide 
around Anzio, included a reclaimed por- 
tion of the famous Pontine Marshes. Win- 
ter weather and poor beaches made the 
entire enterprise extremely hazardous, 
but success of the operation really hinged 
upon whether or not the Germans could 
organize an effective resistance.'"' 

With the approach of D Day, set for 22 
January 1944, Naples and its satellite 
ports presented a scene of intense activity 
as men and materiel were loaded. Long 
lines of waterproofed vehicles rolled down 
to the embarkation points, and troops filed 
aboard waiting vessels. As dawn tinted the 
hills above the Bay of Naples, the first 
ships slipped their hawsers and the assault 
convoy sailed. The landing was virtually 
unopposed, for the enemy had been 
caught completely off^ guard. By noon of 
D Day, VI Corps had attained all its pre- 
liminary objectives. 

The port of Anzio was taken almost in- 
tact. Except for minor damage along the 
water front, the only obstacles were a few 
small vessels scuttled in the harbor. By 
early afternoon of D Day the dock area 
was ready to receive landing craft, and by 



0800 of D plus 2 all the LST's and LCT's 
of the assault convoy had been completely 
unloaded. A maximum of eight LST's 
could be berthed at one time. Because of 
shallow water all Liberty ships had to 
anchor about two miles offshore, discharg- 
ing their cargo mainly into LCT's and 
DUKW's. The average load of each LST 
(American and British types) was 151 
long tons and of the DUKW, 3 long tons. 
The weather during the first week was 
more favorable than anticipated. High 
winds and surf halted beach activity on 
only two days. 

After recovery from the initial shock, 
the reaction of the Germans was sharp 
and severe. With artillery skillfully em- 
placed on high ground and, later, with the 
280-mm. railway gun known as Anzio 
Annie, the enemy bombarded the Anzio 
beachhead day and night, inevitably caus- 
ing some supply losses but never really 
halting the operation. Frequent air raids, 
although annoying, had no appreciable 
adverse effect. Antiaircraft guns, barrage 
balloons, and smoke generators afforded 
some protection for the port. However, 
winter storms, particularly during Febru- 
ary, led to several temporary shutdowns 
in beach and port activities.'" 

Originally, activities on the beaches 
and in the harbor were carried on inde- 
pendently. On 6 February 1944, in order 
to obtain centralized control, the 540th 
Combat Engineers, under Col. George W. 
Marvin, took over all beach and port op- 
erations for Fifth Army, using a detach- 
ment of the 10th Port as a port headquar- 
ters. At first an entire port battalion, the 
488th, was sent to Anzio, where its men 



»" See AFHQ Allied Comdr's Dispatch cited n. 86; 
and Anzio Beachhead, pp. 3-5, 7-8. 

'" Sec .')4()th Eni^r Combat Regt rpt cited n. 89; and 
A/irio Hmihhmd, pp. 8-9, 13-19, 24-26, 113. 



SICILY AND ITALY 



211 



moved from ship to ship discharging 
cargo. The unit had a harrowing experi- 
ence because of enemy aircraft, E-boats, 
and long-range artillery. Under almost 
constant harassment, the 488th managed 
to discharge an average of 1 ,498 long tons 
per day in 37 working days. Nevertheless, 
by 18 February 1944, fatigue, casuakies, 
and illness had greatly lowered the bat- 
talion's efficiency. Aboard the ships the 
men often had no rations. Special gear to 
discharge heavy items was also lacking. 

To remedy this situation sufficient port 
personnel and rations, plus adequate gear 
for discharge, were placed aboard each 
Liberty ship or LST sailing for Anzio. 
After discharge these men returned on the 
same vessel to the home port, and a differ- 
ent group made the next trip. The new 
arrangement took effect early in March 
1944. Since completing discharge meant 
leaving this dangerous area, the port 
troops sent to Anzio worked doubly hard. 
The average Liberty ship carried about 
150 enlisted men with 2 or 3 officers, and 
the initial operation was around-the-clock. 
As a rule each gang consisted of 17 en- 
listed men, of whom 6 worked in the hold, 
8 in the LCT alongside, and 3 on the 
deck. Under the new system the amount 
of tonnage unloaded at Anzio from 1 
through 31 March (157,274 long tons) 
was more than twice the amount (73,251 
long tons) discharged from 6 to 29 Febru- 
ary 1944. At the peak, on 29 March, 
7,828 long tons were unloaded. ■'- 

Anzio resupply at first involved mainly 
landing craft, although cargo ships be- 
came increasingly important in the spring 
months.-'^ The ever-present possibility of 
death or destruction placed a premium on 
rapid discharge and a quick turnaround. 
Beginning in late January 1944 a convoy 
of six LST's was dispatched daily from 
Naples. Each vessel brought fifty loaded 



2V2-ton trucks, which were backed into 
the LST to permit a quick discharge at 
Anzio. Each truck carried about five tons, 
mostly ammunition but also rations and 
such important items for defense as barbed 
wire and sandbags. A Fifth Army G-4 
representative at the beachhead made a 
daily check of the materiel on hand and 
reported the critical needs, operating 
much like a grocer ordering for subsequent 
delivery. After being unloaded at the An- 
zio dumps, the vehicles were filled with 
salvage and other items and then parked 
in a concealed waiting line for the return 
voyage. 

Every week a fleet of fifteen LCT's 
brought bulk shipments from Naples. 
LCI's were employed almost exclusively 
as personnel carriers. At ten-day intervals, 
Liberty ships arrived with additional ma- 
teriel. This unfailing seaborne supply line 
and their own stout resistance enabled the 
beachhead forces to hold out until the 
Allied break-through in late May brought 
relief. Following the occupation of Rome 
on 4 June 1944, the spotlight shifted from 
grim and battered Anzio to the forward 
ports of Civitavecchia and Piombino.''^ 

Civitavecchia and Pwmbino 

Three days after securing Rome, the 
Allied forces had pushed ahead some fifty 
miles to capture the small city of Civita- 



^- 540th Engr Combat Regt rpt cited n. 89; Fifth 
Army Daily Journal, Daily Rpt to Gen Tate, entries 
for 29 Jan--9 Feb, 18 and 26 Feb 44, AG Opns Rpts; 
Rpt, 6th Port, Anzio Port Battalions, 26 May 44, 
OCT HB North Africa Italy Anzio. Also see Hist, 
382d Port Bn, 16 Jun 42-May 44; Rpt of Mission to 
Anzio, 677th Port Co, 27 Mar 44; and Ernie Pyle's 
article in Detention Times. Vol. I, No. 25 (6 May 1945). 
All in AG Opns Rpts TCBN-382-0. 1 (2999 1 ). 

'" Hist Red, Trans Sec PBS. 1 Dec 44, OCT HB 
North Africa PBS. 

'■"Anzio Beachhead, pp. 107-12, 116-17; Interv, 
Mathews with Gen Tate, 19 Jan 49, OCMH Files. 



212 



THE TRANSPORTATION CORPS 



vecchia.''" There, bombing and demolition 
had played havoc with port and rail facil- 
ities. The harbor was filled with sunken 
craft and the breakwater had been dam- 
aged. Speedy rehabilitation was essential 
to provide an additional port, since the 
available land transport was inadequate 
for the rapidly advancing Fifth Army. 
Through the efforts of the U.S. Navy, the 
Corps of Engineers, and a daily labor 
force of 500 to 700 Italians, salvage and 
reconstruction proceeded so rapidly that 
within a week cargo was being discharged 
from five ships, four Liberties and a 
coaster, that arrived on 13 June. A de- 
tachment of the 8th Port supervised 
operations. ^"^ 

At Civitavecchia all ships at first had to 
be discharged from anchorage, but four 
Liberty berths were eventually developed 
for alongside use. The maximum dis- 
charge was about 6,000 long tons per day. 
As a supply port Civitavecchia had only 
fleeting significance. Until late July 1944 
as much as 27,000 long tons was dis- 
charged per week, but thereafter the vol- 
ume dwindled. Civitavecchia, like 
Piombino, took ships diverted from 
Naples when that port became congested. 
As activity increased at Piombino, Civita- 
vecchia declined in importance and on 12 
September 1944 ceased to function as a 
military port. 

The history of Piombino as an Allied 
port roughly parallels that of Civitavec- 
chia. Captured by elements of the 39th 
Engineer Combat Regiment, the battered 
port facilities at Piombino required con- 
siderable rehabilitation. Discharge began 
on 30 June. In the first two days of opera- 
tion, 3,437 long tons of general cargo and 
93 vehicles were unloaded by landing 
craft, barges, and DUKW's. The 39th 
Combat Engineers retained control of the 



port under Fifth Army but were assisted 
by a detachment from the 8th Port, which 
was shortly replaced by personnel from 
the 6th Port. 

Port reconstruction later brought 
berthing space for two Liberty ships and 
one coaster, but during the summer of 
1944 most cargo ships were discharged 
offshore into LCT's. A pressing problem 
was the lack of a rail connection with the 
main line between Rome and Leghorn, 
which meant that all cargo had to be 
cleared by truck. In spite of insufficient 
craft, cargo discharge at Piombino mount- 
ed, reaching a peak of 44,009 long tons for 
the week ending 5 August, or almost four 
times the figure recorded for the same 
period at Civitavecchia. During the fol- 
lowing months when Leghorn became 
available, port acti,vity at Piombino 
sharply declined, and on 20 September its 
cargo operations ceased. 

Leghorn 

The large commercial port of Leghorn 
fell to the Allies on 19 July 1944, but ex- 
tensive damage prevented its immediate 
use. The northern and southern entrances 
to the harbor were blocked by sunken 
ships, the harbor and town were heavily 
mined, and enemy shelling for a time de- 
layed clearance. Quay walls had been 



■'"' The account of activities at Civitavecchia and 
Piombino is based on the following: Hist, 8th Port, 
1 Mav~30Jun 44, OCT HB Oversea Ports; Hist Red, 
Trans Sec AAI Adv Ech, 28 May-1 Jul 44, 30 Jul-2 
Sep 44, and 3-30 Sep 44, OCT HB North Africa; Hist 
Red, Trans Sec PBS, 1 Dec 44, OCT HB North 
Africa PBS. Also see TCPI Bull 5, Items 12 and 16, 
6 Sep 44, Bull 6, Items 24 and 25, 26 Sep 44, and Bull 
10, Item 27, 13 Nov 44, OCT HB North Africa PBS. 

'"' From 1 May 1944 the 8th Port was divided into 
detachments, which functioned in Corsica and at 
An/io, Civitavecchia, and Piombino until reunited in 
Najjles at the close of June 1944. 



SICILY AND ITALY 



213 



shattered by explosives, alongside berths 
were inaccessible, and rail facilities were 
inoperable. However dismal the prospect, 
reconstruction had to begin immediately 
because of the urgent need of another 
large port fairly close to forward elements 
of Fifth Army.'"' 

With the help of the U.S. Navy and the 
Corps of Engineers, mines and under- 
water obstacles were removed, a channel 
was blasted through the scuttled ships to 
permit large vessels to enter the south har- 
bor, extensions were added to the blasted 
quays to facilitate cargo discharge, and, 
as at Naples, the sunken vessels were 
made into piers. Preliminary operations 
commenced on 20 August 1944 when the 
first Liberty ship, the Theodore Sedgwick, 
arrived and began offshore discharge of 
essential engineering and stevedoring 
equipment. Eight days later two Liberty 
berths were available. Cargo discharge 
climbed rapidly to a peak, for the week of 
24-30 September, of 45,328 long tons. At 
the close of the month Leghorn boasted 
eleven Liberty berths for alongside dis- 
charge, six berths for lighterage, and one 
berth for tankers.''"* 

Port operations were started by an En- 
gineer combat battalion assigned to the 
Peninsular Base Section, and on 1 Sep- 
tember 1944 the 10th Port under the 
command of Col. John M. Cobb replaced 
the battalion. At Leghorn the 10th Port 
faced problems similar to those of the 6th 
Port at Naples — widespread destruction, 
inadequate service personnel, insufficient 
motor transport, limited port and rail 
facilities, adverse weather conditions, and 
unskilled native labor. For several months 
Leghorn was uncomfortably close to the 
front, as evidenced by the landing of 
enemy saboteurs. Fortunately, the person- 
nel of the 10th Port and of the Peninsular 



Base Section had the requisite experience 
to cope with the situation."-' 

Both American and British port batal- 
lions were assigned to Leghorn. The for- 
mer, mostly Negro units, worked on 
American ships, and the latter on British 
vessels. Considerable use was made of 
Italian labor, both civilians and service 
units. Many barges and other harbor 
craft were required for offshore discharge, 
and frequent breakdowns among such 
vessels caused much concern until trained 
personnel were obtained to make repairs. 
At the outset only three cranes were in 
use, one 30-ton floating crane and two 
mobile shore cranes of 5-ton capacity, but 
thirty additional cranes were procured be- 
fore the end of the year.'"" 

Since building damage had been exten- 
sive, much of the cargo had to be stored 
in the open. In the absence of rail lines, 
trucks at first carried all supplies for- 
warded northward from the port to the 
Fifth Army. Restoration on 7 November 
1944 of rail service from Leghorn to Pisa 
on Line 50 lessened the load on motor 
transport.'"' Trucks, however, were always 
the mainstay in port clearance. 

By 24 November 1944, since sufficient 



f'- Hist Red, Trans Sec PBS, 1 Dec 44, OCT HB 
North Africa PBS; Rpt, Port of Leghorn, Hist Red, 
U.S. Trans Sec AAI Adv Ech, 2-29 Jul 44, OCT HB 
North Africa. 

"^ TCPI Bull 10, Item 26, 13 Nov 44, and Bull 12, 
Item 33, 7 Dec 44; Hist Red, U.S. Trans Sec AAI 
Adv Ech, 3-30 Sep 44, OCT HB North Africa. 

"■' Hist Rpt, 10th Port, Sep-Dec 44, AG Opn Rpts 
TCPT- 10-0.2; Logistical History of NATOUSA- 
MTOUSA,p. 107. ' 

'""TCPI Bull 10, Item 26, 13 Nov 44, Bull 11, 
Item 40, 24 Nov 44, and Bull 1 6, Item 24, 1 2 Feb 43; 
Hist Rpt, 10th Port, Jan 45, AG Opns TCPT- 10-0.2. 

'"' Rpt, Transportation Corps Activities in the 
Mediterranean Theater of Operations, June 1944- 
May 1945, p. 5, OCT HB North Africa OCT AFHQ; 
Hist Red, OCT AFHQ MTOUSA, Oct-Dec 44, Ex- 
hibit P-6, OCT HB North Africa. 



214 



THE TRANSPORTATION CORPS 



berthing space had been developed, all 
supply for Fifth Army was concentrated 
at Leghorn. The port then had twelve 
berths ready for Liberties and another 
almost completed, one for coasters and one 
for colliers, two for tankers, and several 
hards for landing craft. During the period 
20 August 1944 to 31 May 1945, 1,375,- 
205 long tons of general cargo, 471,926 
long tons of bulk petroleum, and 21,854 
vehicles were unloaded at Leghorn. In the 
same period the port outloaded 233,185 
tons of general cargo.'"- 

Passenger traffic was also significant at 
Leghorn. Troops were transshipped from 
Naples, reinforcements arrived for Fifth 
Army, and patients were evacuated. The 
first personnel ship, the Colombie, docked 
on 6 October 1944, bringing elements of 
the 92d Division. Thereafter the port 
handled both inbound and outbound pas- 
sengers. In the last quarter of 1944 de- 
barkations featured U.S. Army replace- 
ments and elements of the Brazilian 
Expeditionary Force, the latter arriving 
by LCI from Naples. Embarkations con- 
sisted of evacuated prisoners of war, mis- 
cellaneous troops for France, rotation 
personnel for the United States, and 
patients leaving the theater. At the peak, 
in December 1944, almost 3,000 patients 
were evacuated from Leghorn aboard 
seven hospital ships.'"* 

Since the harbor was too shallow to 
accept large troopships, and adverse 
weather could impede the offshore dis- 
charge of personnel, the Sestriere, a fast but 
shallow-draft cargo vessel taken from the 
Italians at Taranto, was converted by the 
8th Port into a personnel carrier for shut- 
tle service between Naples and Leghorn. 
Fitted with standee bunks for about 1,900 
passengers, the Sestriere completed her first 



21 -hour run from Naples to Leghorn on 
27 December 1944. By July 1945 she had 
transported 41,042 passengers.'"' 

Embarkations at Leghorn narrowly 
exceeded debarkations during the wartime 
period, the former totaling 145,434, and 
the latter 139,021. Beginning in February 
1945, the number embarked was swollen 
by the inclusion of 68,906 British and 
Canadian troops redeployed through this 
port to Marseille.'"^ When the German 
armies surrendered on 2 May 1945, Leg- 
horn and Naples were the principal Allied 
ports in the theater. 

Rail Transport 

Movement by sea was the predominant 
factor in U.S. Army transportation in the 
Mediterranean. Yet, as in other theaters, 
all practicable means of transport had to 
be exploited to meet the transportation 
needs. Among the available alternatives 
the Italian railways naturally bulked 
large, and their prompt utilization became 
an important objective. 

Extensive Allied bombing and wide- 
spread Axis destruction had left the Italian 
railways almost completely inoperable 
when U.S. and British forces invaded the 
peninsula. American railway operations 
were initiated in the Salerno area on 
23 September 1943. The Corps of Engi- 
neers, assisted by Italian labor, opened the 



'""- Hist Red, Trans Sec PBS, 1 Dec 44, OCT HB 
North Africa PBS; Rpt, Transportation Activities in 
the Mediterranean Theater of Operations, p. 5, OCT 
HB North Africa OCT AFHQ. 

""Hist Red, 10th Port, Oct-Dec 44, AG Opns 
TCPT- 10-0.2; Hist Red, U.S. Trans Sec Adm Ech 
AAI, 1 Oct-4 Nov 44, OCT HB North Africa. 

"" See data in OCT HB Ocean Trans Vessels 
Name File Sestriere. 

'"'■ Hist Red, OCT AFHQ MTOUSA, Apr-Jun 45, 
Exhibit W-1, OCT HB North Africa. 



SICILY AND ITALY 



215 



first steam and electric line, which ran 
from Agropoli, just below Paestum, to 
Battipaglia, approximately twenty-four 
miles. Since the overhead wires had been 
cut on the electrified portion, at first the 
only source of power was one recondi- 
tioned steam locomotive discovered at 
Agropoli. Switching service was supplied 
by four 2'/2-ton U.S. Army trucks that had 
been specially equipped with flanged 
wheels to run on rails. More than a hun- 
dred boxcars and open-top cars were found 
available, together with about 300 tons of 
coal. During the last week of September 
1943, 215 carloads of ammunition, rations, 
gasoline, oil, and grease were forwarded 
over this line.^'"' 

According to Colonel Burpee, who 
headed the advance echelon of the 703d 
Railway Grand Division in this area, the 
first railway line was opened to Salerno on 
5 October. However, the condition of the 
tracks at Salerno made it necessary to 
establish a railhead at Pontecagnano, five 
miles to the south, whence supplies were 
forwarded by truck to the dumps at Avel- 
lino. Two trains per day were operated to 
the railhead. Following track and bridge 
repairs north of Salerno, the line was fur- 
ther extended for a total distance of about 
43 miles. Railway service was handicapped 
by an inadequate water supply, by the 
temporary diversion of vehicular traffic to 
the railway bridge across the Sele River, 
and by the necessity of transporting nu- 
merous homebound Italian refugees. De- 
spite these difficulties, the line to Naples 
was gradually made operable by Ameri- 
can and British railway troops and Italian 
labor.^'^" 

On 7 October 1943 General Gray, 
Director General, Military Railway Serv- 
ice, AFHQ, took command of all U.S. and 



British railway troops in Italy. This action 
was foHowed on 22 October by an AFHQ 
directive assigning Gray responsibility for 
the rehabilitation, technical development, 
and operation of all Italian State Railways 
and all privately owned railways in Italy 
except those that might be returned from 
time to time to civilian control. All Ameri- 
can rail troops, the railway portion of the 
British Transportation Service, and Italian 
State Railways personnel and materiel 
were placed at his disposal and were to 
operate under his direction. Control of the 
Italian State Railways personnel and Ital- 
ian military railway units was to be 
effected through General di Raimondo, 
Director of the Italian State Railways 
under the Italian High Command, who 
would report to Gray to carry out assigned 
duties. 

As in North Africa, the MRS headquar- 
ters at Naples was an international organ- 
ization, staffed by both British and Ameri- 
can personnel. Gray exercised command 
of the British railway units through the 
senior British transportation service officer 
in Italy, Colonel Parkes, who also served 
as Gray's deputy. Colonel Burpee was ap- 
pointed Director, Military Railways in 
Italy, and headed up the American rail 
activities for Gray.""* Continuing MRS 
operations in North Africa were handled 
by Brigadier Gage, the British director of 
transportation and deputy to the director 
general, and Col. Alexander W. Campbell 



'"« Hist Red, 6th Port, Vol. Ill, Exhibit B-5, OCT 
HB Oversea Ports. 

'"■ Ibid., Vol. Ill, Exhibit B-6. 

"'^ Slated to head MRS operations in northern 
France, Burpee left for the United States in late No- 
vember 1943. Thereafter, his position was abolished, 
and the commander of the principal U.S. organiza- 
tion in the field, the 703d Railway Grand Division, re- 
ported directly to Gray. 



216 



THE TRANSPORTATION CORPS 



(U.S.), Director, Military Railways of 
North Africa."^-' 

In Italy, U.S. and British railway units 
were assigned to separate zones, as far as 
practicable. In general, the British troops 
were employed behind the British Eighth 
Army along the eastern side of the penin- 
sula, working their way northward from 
the Bari area; the American units were 
placed in support of the American Fifth 
Army on the Mediterranean side.'"' Ital- 
ian troops were used in both zones to assist 
in railway rehabilitation. 

American railway troops began arriving 
at Naples shortly after its capture. An 
advance echelon of the 703d Railway 
Grand Division reached that city on 
3 October 1943. Three days later the 
713th Railway Operating Battalion de- 
barked and began the tremendous job of 
restoring rail service in the Naples area by 
clearing away debris and repairing the 
damaged tracks, bridges, and equipment. 
Its maintenance of way group. Company 
A, repaired the trackage at the port and 
then moved seven miles to the north, lay- 
ing 8,500 feet of track in four days despite 
inadequate equipment, adverse weather, 
and land mines. During October and No- 
vember 1943 the unit restored as much as 
16,200 feet of track in a single week, and 
with Company A of the 727th Railway 
Operating Battalion it reconstructed a 
300-foot bridge over the swift and muddy 
Volturno River north of Capua. 

Other units of the 7 13th were also busy 
during these months. By 23 October Com- 
pany B had placed nine locomotives in 
operation and had four more under repair. 
For a few days Company C had no tracks 
on which to operate, but thereafter its 
services were in great demand. The first 
test train left Naples on 10 October. The 
locomotives and railway cars taken from 



the enemy were found to be superior to 
similar French equipment in North Africa. 
However, operation of the engines was 
hampered by poor coal."' 

By mid-October 1943 the trains leaving 
Naples for the front hauled an average of 
700 tons. It is difficult to reconcile the con- 
flicting reports on the total number of cars 
loaded and the total tonnage carried dur- 
ing October in the Naples area, but in any 
event the trend was definitely upward as 
more operating equipment became avail- 
able and more trackage was opened to 
Allied traffic.''- According to the 6th Port, 
the monthly carloadings at Naples in- 
creased to approximately 5,500 during 
November and 7,700 during December 
1943. As the year drew to a close. General 
Gray found the Military Railway Service 
in far better shape than he had antici- 
pated. A number of important facilities 
such as the steam locomotive repair shop 
at Naples had escaped serious damage, 
and the Italian railway workers soon were 
busily engaged on Allied orders.'" 



"3 Hist Red, Hq MRS. Oct 43, Exhibits 10-11, 
Nov 43, p. 2, and Dec 43, Exhibits 1-2, OCT HB 
North Africa Hq MRS; Memo, Col D. E. Brisbine, 
Chief Mil Ry Br. for CofT, 28 Oct 43, OCT HB MRS 
Mise; Ltr and Comments, Gray to Ward, 18 Jul 52, 
OCMH Files. Both Gage and Campbell later moved 
to Italy. 

"" Some British rail troops served in the Salerno 
area in September and October, before being trans- 
ferred to the east. For an account of British railway 
activities in Italy, involving two railway operating 
groups and two railway construction and mainte- 
nance groups, see Micklcm (ed.). Transportation, pp. 
1 10-13, 1 17-22. Cf Gray ltr and comments cited n. 
109. 

'" Hist Red, 703d Ry Grand Div, Oct 43, and Hist 
Red, 713th Ry Operating Bn, Oct-Nov 43, OCT HB 
North Africa Ry Units. 

"- For conflicting figures, compare Ltr, Gen Gray 
to Col Brisbine, 23 Nov 43, OCT HB North Africa 
MRS Misc; and Hist, 6th Port, Vol. IV, Exhibit L, 
OCT HB Oversea Ports. 

" ' Ltrs, Gray to Brisbine, 6 and 13 Dec 43, OCT 
HB North Africa MRS Misc. 



SICILY AND ITALY 



217 



During their first six months in Italy, 
the MRS troops were plagued most by 
damaged or demolished tracks and struc- 
tures and insufficient coal for the locomo- 
tives. As they pushed northward from 
Naples they discovered that the retreating 
Germans had been amazingly clever in 
the art of demolition. Bridges were blasted, 
tunnels blocked, and rails, ties, and 
switches rendered useless. Among the more 
ingenious devices was the so-called big 
hook, which was carried on a flat car and 
towed behind a train. While the hook tore 
up the ties, TNT charges were dropped to 
damage the rails. ^'^ Luckily, not all the 
destruction came off^ according to plan. 
For example, only part of the eight-mile 
railway tunnel north of Naples was shat- 
tered, and the Americans were able rap- 
idly to open the demolished portion and 
to begin moving trains through the tunnel. 
The brunt of railway reconstruction in the 
area behind the Fifth Army was borne by 
the A Companies and signal sections of 
the 713th, 715th, 719th, 727th, and 759th 
Railway Operating Battalions, assisted by 
two battalions of Italian construction 
troops. ^^^ 

Even when tracks and bridges were 
ready for service, there was the problem of 
providing fuel to run the trains since Italy 
lacked coal. In order to make the maxi- 
mum use of fuel oil, by late October 1943 
General Gray had decided to obtain as 
many diesel engines as possible and to 
convert U.S. and Italian coal-burning 
locomotives into oil burners. At the close 
of February 1944 a total of forty-nine U.S. 
diesel engines had been placed in opera- 
tion in Italy. Of the fourteen U.S. stand- 
ard 2-8-0 coal-burning locomotives re- 
ceived from North Africa during that 
month, eleven were made into oil burners. 
Sizable quantities of both coal and fuel oil 



had to be imported to keep the trains in 
operation."" 

The MRS had considerable shop work 
done under its direction. Two American 
and three British hospital trains were con- 
verted from captured equipment and used 
to transport patients during the winter of 
1943-44. The second American fourteen- 
car hospital train, completed on 1 1 Febru- 
ary 44, was much superior to the first, 
having both electric lighting and steam 
heat throughout. Other jobs performed 
during 1944 included the construction of a 
nine-car "delousing" train for Fifth Army 
troops at the front and the manufacture of 
replacement parts for baking equipment 
at the Anzio beachhead. ' ' ' 

Highly significant in all this activity 
was the success of the MRS in repairing 
electric engines and restoring service on 
the electrified lines that the Germans had 
left in a seemingly hopeless state. The first 
electric-driven military train began run- 
ning in the Salerno area on 16 January 
1944. Subsequently, electric trains were 
operated between Naples and Bagnoli and 
later between Benevento and Foggia. 
Diesel-electric engines were kept rolling 
by the machinists and electricians of the 



'" The big hook, also known as the track ripper or 
the rooter plow, was later employed by the Germans 
in the European Theater of Operations. HRPE (Tech 
Intel) Rpt 43, 7 Aug 44, OCT HB North Africa MRS 
Misc; Hist Red, 703d Ry Grand Div, Dec 43, OCT 
HB North Africa Ry Units. 

"■■ Ltrs, Gray to Brisbine, 23 Oct, 23 Nov 43, OCT 
HB North Africa MRS Misc. 

>'«Ltr, Gray to Brisbine, 23 Oct 43, OCT HB 
North Africa MRS Misc; Hist Red, Hq MRS, Feb 44, 
OCT HB North Africa Hq MRS; Hist Red, 703d Ry 
Grand Div, Jan-Mar 44, OCT HB North Africa Hq 
MRS. 

'1' Hist Red, 703d Ry Grand Div, Oct 43, Jan-Apr 
44, OCT HB North Africa Ry Units; Hist Red, Hq 
MRS, Jan, Feb. and Jun 44, OCT HB North Africa 
Hq MRS; Hist Booklet, SOLOC, American "Rails" 
in Eight Countries, the Story of the 1st Military Rail- 
way Service, pp. 14-16, OCT HB. 



218 



THE TRANSPORTATION CORPS 



760th Railway Diesel Shop Battalion, 
which began functioning at Bagnoli in late 
November 1943."^ 

By January 1944 Allied rail traffic in 
Italy had begun to boom. Lines totaling 
approximately 2,400 miles were then 
under MRS operational control, and be- 
cause of the temporary slow down in the 
Allied advance the rehabilitation and 
operation of the railways had been pushed 
forward almost within sight of the combat 
zone."^ During the closing months of 
1943 the military demands for movements 
by rail were co-ordinated and the allot- 
ments of rail tonnage decided by means of 
weekly rail Priority of Movements meet- 
ings attended by representatives of the 
Peninsular Base Section, the Advance 
Administrative Echelon, AFHQ^ and the 
Military Railway Service. These meetings 
functioned on the base section level. How- 
ever, when the demand for rail transport 
began to exceed the available capacity, 
serious backlogs developed. Therefore, in 
late January 1944 the Advance Adminis- 
trative Echelon, AFHQ, instituted a POM 
conference to allocate tonnage movements 
by rail. 

At the first AFHQ POM meeting, held 
on 27 January 1944, principal bidders for 
rail space, both American and British, 
were represented, including all the U.S. 
supply services, the Army Air Forces, and 
the Peninsular Base Section. Although 
rail capacities would not permit accepting 
all bids received, a total of 18,537 tons was 
allocated for the east-west movement in 
the week beginning 31 January. The 
chairman at these meetings was a British 
movements officer, and the deputy chair- 
man was an American, Colonel Fuller. 
American and British bids were submitted 
separately and then consolidated. After 
the allocations had been decided the final 



arrangements for shipment were made by 
the appropriate U.S. and British agencies, 
respectively, for their accepted bids.^'-° 
Since the POM conference concerned only 
rail traffic for the Allied armies, other 
arrangements had to be made for nonmili- 
tary passengers and freight.^-' 

While the MRS struggled to restore rail 
service and to satisfy both military and 
civilian demands, its operations were by 
no means trouble-free. The thick blanket 
of volcanic ash and cinders left by the vio- 
lent eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in March 
1944 halted railway traffic for nearly two 
days. Also, enemy aircraft continued to 
strafe trains and to bomb railway facilities, 
striking in the Naples area as late as April 
1944, but doing relatively little damage. 
As in North Africa, trains carried antiair- 
craft guns and gunners.' '"' 

With respect to pilferage. Gray drew 
upon his previous experience. To protect 
railway shipments in Italy he obtained the 
794th Military Police Battalion from 
North Africa. In January 1944, in order 
to counter stepped-up pilferage, detach- 
ments of the 794th were stationed at Torre 
Annunziata, Salerno, Potenza, and Batti- 
paglia, to guard equipment and supplies 
both while awaiting shipment and in 



"-* Hist Red, 703d Ry Grand Div, Jan and Mar 44, 
OCT HB North Africa Ry Units; Hist Red. 760th Ry 
Diesel Shop Bn, 2 Apr 44, OCT HB North Africa 
760th Ry Diesel Shop Bn. 

"' Ltr, Gray to Brisbine, 17 Jan 44, OCT HB 
North Africa MRS Misc. 

'-" The rail POM conference met throughout 1944. 
See Hist Red, U.S. Trans Sec AFHQ AAE (AAI), 
Jan-Dec 44, OCT HB North Africa. 

'-' A basic schedule of trains for essential civilian 
requirements was established on 11 December 1943. 
Hist Red, U.S. Trans Sec AFHQ AAE, 12-18 Dec 43 
and 2-8 Jan 44, OCT HB North Africa; OCT HB 
Monograph 17, pp. 156-66. 

'-' Ltrs, Gray to Brisbine, 23 Mar and 23 Apr 44, 
OCT HB North Africa MRS Misc; Hist Red, Hq 
MRS, Apr 44, OCT HB North Africa Hq MRS. 



SICILY AND ITALY 



219 



transit. Throughout the ItaHan campaign 
the MRS employed military police to pro- 
tect rail shipments by riding the trains and 
guarding the freight yards.'" '' 

On 30 April 1944 the MRS, under 
General Gray, had the following U.S. 
Army military railway units stationed in 
Italy: two railway grand divisions, four 
railway operating battalions and Com- 
pany A of another; one railway shop bat- 
talion; a detachment of one railway diesel 
shop battalion; one provisional base depot 
company; and a military police battalion 
and a separate military police company. 
On the same date the strength of all U.S. 
units assigned to MRS in the theater, in- 
cluding several still on service in North 
Africa, totaled 7,418 officers and enlisted 
men.^"' During this period rail activity 
continued at a high level, especially in the 
Naples and Bari areas. At the close of 
April 1944 the MRS had 504 locomotives, 
of which 296 were available and 208 were 
under repair. Railway cars in service 
numbered 18,961.^-"' 

In May 1944 a new Allied push north- 
ward brought additional responsibilities 
for Gray's men. On occasion, the Military 
Railway Service engaged in activity nor- 
mally pertaining to the Corps of Engi- 
neers. An outstanding example was the 
reconstruction by military railway troops 
of a 23 7 -foot bridge over the Garigliano 
River at Minturno, at that time reportedly 
the largest single span replaced in the the- 
ater. Rebuilt with captured German 
bridging material, the new structure was 
opened to traffic early in June.'-'' 

Following its capture, Rome quickly 
developed into the main center for the 
MRS in Italy. Meanwhile, railway lines to 
and from the Eternal City were being re- 
constructed much more rapidly than orig- 
inally contemplated. By 27 June 1944 rail 



service had been restored to the newly 
acquired port of Civitavecchia, and two 
days later the first train ran from Anzio to 
Rome. During the same month an ad- 
vance echelon, commanded by Col. James 
K. Tully, set up the MRS headquarters in 
Rome. British railway troops had com- 
pleted the reconstruction of Line 90 from 
Cassino to Rome by 2 July. The formal 
entry came on Independence Day, when 
the Secretary of War and his official party 
were brought into Rome aboard a special 
train.'-' 

During July and August outloading for 
the invasion of southern France placed a 
heavy burden upon the railways in the 
Naples area. Among the first MRS units 
transferred to southern France were the 
703d Railway Grand Division and the 
713th Railway Operating Battalion. On 
15 September 1944 General Gray officially 
opened a new MRS headquarters at Lyon, 
France. Temporarily, the MRS in Rome 
was represented by a rear echelon under 
Colonel Campbell and the 704th Railway 
Grand Division. However, since both 
Campbell's group and the 704th were 
slated for service in France, a new railway 
grand division, the 774th, was activated 



'■'■' Hist Red, Hq MRS. Jan 44. OCT HB North 
Africa Hq MRS. 

'-' This figure does not include the British and 
Italian mihtary railway personnel and the many 
civilian railway workers under General Gray's con- 
trol or supervision. 

•-■ Hist Red, Hq MRS. Apr 44, OCT HB North 
Africa Hq MRS. 

'-'• Hist Red, 703d Ry Grand Div, May 44. OCT 
HB North Africa Ry Units; Hist Red, Hq MRS, Jul 
44. Exhibit 15, OCT HB North Africa Hq MRS. Cf 
Brig. Gen. Carl R. Gray, Jr., "Rebuild Blasted Bridges 
in Italy," Rutlwav Age, CXVII, 25 (December 16, 
1944), 920, 928-29. 

'-' Hist, 715th Ry Operating Bn, Jun-Jul 44, OCT 
HB North Africa Ry Units; Hist Red, Hq MRS. Jun- 
Jul 44, OCT HB North Africa Hq MRS. The first 
trains were operated by military personnel. 



220 



THE TRANSPORTATION CORPS 



and placed under the command of Lt. Col. 
William P. Wilson with headquarters at 
Rome. In late October 1944 Brigadier 
R. D. Waghorn, the theater British trans- 
portation service chief, was appointed 
director of the Allied MRS in Italy, and 
Wilson became his deputy.'-'* 

Amid these changes, military railway 
operations centered increasingly in the 
Leghorn-Pisa-Florence area of northern 
Italy. The coastal lines from Rome to Leg- 
horn became available on 22 September 
1944. Early in November Line 50 was 
opened from Leghorn to Pisa, after con- 
siderable track repair and the replacement 
of five bridges by the maintenance of way 
companies of the 715th and 719th Rail- 
way Operating Battalions. Subsequently, 
reconstruction was begun on the two rail 
lines from Pisa to Florence. The most stra- 
tegically located of the two. Line 218, 
passed through the Serravalle Tunnel via 
Pistoia and Prato to Florence. However, 
because the demolition of the tunnel was 
unexpectedly thorough, repairs were 
rushed on the alternative route to Flor- 
ence, Line 219, which ran approximately 
fifty miles along the valley of the Arno 
River.'-'' 

Originally double-tracked and electri- 
fied, Line 2 1 9 had been one of Italy's high- 
speed lines. Because of German demoli- 
tion and Allied bombing, rail service had 
been completely halted. Track, yards, sig- 
nal communications, and rolling stock had 
been heavily damaged, and most bridges, 
culverts, and arches had been completely 
destroyed. Rehabilitation of the major 
portion of the line began ahead of the tar- 
get date of 30 April."" The job was done 
by Italian railway troops, the maintenance 
of way companies of the 715th and 719th 
Railway Operating Battalions, and several 
engineer construction companies. The 



project involved 44 miles of main line 
track, 1,776 lineal feet of bridging, 5,1 73 
lineal feet of fill, 2,425 lineal feet of pipe 
culvert, and 23 miles of yard, sidings, and 
spur track at 1 7 locations. 

As the war in Italy drew to a close, the 
major emphasis of MRS activity was 
placed upon the reconstruction and resto- 
ration to service of the lines in the north, 
which were vital to Fifth Army. To the 
south as the wartime urgency lessened, 
portions of the rail network were progres- 
sively released to the Italian State Rail- 
ways. Military traffic continued heavy in 
1945. In April 377 military freight trains 
delivered 151,827 net tons from Leghorn 
to Pisa. 

There was also considerable troop travel 
during the first five months of 1945, espe- 
cially on the leave trains, which in March 
carried a record total of 88,683 passengers. 
Coupled with the movement of repatriates 
and prisoners of war, all this activity 
brought a constantly increasing demand 
for rail equipment, which was met only by 
tapping all available sources in the United 
States, Sicily, and North Africa and by 
instituting a vigorous program of repair 
and recovery of rolling stock on the Italian 
mainland. 

On 30 April 1945 the American con- 
tingent of the MRS in Italy comprised 190 
officers, 5 warrant officers, and 3,685 en- 
listed men. The units involved were the 



'-" Hist Red Hq MRS, Aug 44, OCT HB North 
Africa Hq MRS; Hist Red, 774th Ry Grand Div, 2 
Sep-7 Oct, 22 Oct-30 Nov 44, OCT HB North 
Africa Ry Units. 

'-' Hist Red, 774th Ry Grand Div, 20 Oct-30 Nov 
44, OCT HB North Africa Ry Units. 

1 1(1 p^pf of the line, about six miles from Pisa, had 
already been opened to serve forward ammunition de- 
pots. See Pamphlet, 774th Ry Grand Div, Reconstruc- 
tion of Line 219 Florence to Pisa, Italy, 4 Apr 45, 
OCT HB North Africa Rv Units. 



SICILY AND ITALY 



221 



774th Railway Grand Division, with 
headquarters at Rome; the 701st Railway 
Grand Division, with headquarters at 
Florence; two railway operating battal- 
ions, the 715th at Florence and the 719th 
at Leghorn; the 753d Railway Shop Bat- 
talion at Naples; the 760th Railway Diesel 
Shop Battalion at Rome; and six military 
police companies, stationed at various 
points from Naples to Grosseto, with head- 
quarters at Rome. Almost as numerous as 
the Americans were the attached Italian 
railway engineer units, totaling 131 offi- 
cers and 3,287 enlisted men. When hostili- 
ties ended, practically all lines on the 
mainland were being operated by the 
Italian State Railways.'" 

Truck and Highway Operations 

Despite the impressive contribution of 
the Military Railway Service, motor trans- 
port was in constant demand throughout 
the Italian campaign. Since rail facilities 
were badly damaged, trucks initially had 
to be relied upon to clear the beaches and 
ports and to provide inland transporta- 
tion. As the railways were restored to serv- 
ice they assumed an increasing share of 
the load, but motor transport remained 
important in port clearance, base and 
depot hauling, and deliveries forward from 
the railheads. Providing close and flexible 
support to the combat forces, trucks were 
less susceptible to enemy attack than the 
fixed rail lines, and they could easily be 
diverted to meet new or emergency de- 
mands. Generally speaking, there were 
never enough trucks to fill current needs. 
In Italy, which lacked the modern high- 
way network of the United States, the war 
brought many problems in motor trans- 
portation. However, the U.S. Army was 
better prepared for its task because of pre- 



vious experience in the rugged terrain of 
North Africa and Sicily. 

Both the Peninsular Base Section and 
the Fifth Army had sizable aggregations 
of trucks, the former for service operations 
and the latter for combat missions. The 
main burden fell upon the highway officer 
of the Peninsular Base Section, Lt. Col. 
Chester R. Weaver, and upon the Trans- 
portation Officer, G-4, Fifth Army, Major 
Kreml. Weaver and Kreml were experi- 
enced highway officers who had learned 
their jobs the hard way — in North 
Africa. '''- 

It was fortunate that Col. (later Brig. 
Gen.) Ralph H. Tate, who became G-4 of 
Fifth Army in August 1943, was firmly 
convinced of the need of a separate trans- 
portation section to function under his 
direction. Despite the unwillingness of the 
Fifth Army quartermaster to relinquish 
the transportation function, Tate suc- 
ceeded in setting up a new special staff" 
Transportation Section, which was headed 
by Major Kreml. Tate considered this 
action the most important single step he 
took as G-4, Fifth Army, for it meant that 
all Fifth Army truck units were put in a 
pool under the centralized control of the 
Army G-4 and were not, as before, under 
the control of the Fifth Army quartermas- 
ter, who was himself a user of transporta- 
tion.'^^ 

Motor transport activity in Italy began 
at the Salerno beachhead. With the as- 
sault force came the 1st Battalion of the 



' •' Hist Red, 774th Ry Grand Div. Apr and May 
45, OCT HB North Africa Ry Units. 

' '- See copy of Kreml's talk at the Transportation 
School, Ft. Eustis, 29 October 1948, pages 8-14 (OCT 
HB North Africa Hvvy Rpts), for a helpful summary 
of highway operations in Italy. 

"' Interv, Mathews and Tate, 19 Jan 49, OCMH 
Files. 



222 



THE TRANSPORTATION CORPS 



468th Quartermaster Truck Regiment and 
a platoon of the 22d Quartermaster Car 
Company. Other trucking units soon fol- 
lowed/ '* Early operations at Salerno were 
confined to moving supplies from the 
beaches to nearby dumps. At first, both 
trucks and drivers were far too few to keep 
the beaches cleared. As the invaders 
pushed inland, trucks carried the bulk of 
the supplies, although the opening of rail 
service in late September lightened the 
load on Highway 18.' ''' Thereafter, avail- 
able rail and highway facilities generally 
provided a combination lift, with rail 
transport being employed as much as and 
as far forward as possible before turning 
to trucks. ''" 

Within two weeks after the initial 
assault, traffic control had to be inaugu- 
rated on Highway 18, the main overland 
supply route. By late September 1943 
bumper-to-bumper traffic was common, a 
condition that could have led to disaster 
had there not been Allied air superiority. 
To relieve highway congestion, a central- 
ized motor pool was established for all 
beaches, traffic control posts were set up, 
and traffic dispersal areas were selected 
near the highway into which vehicles were 
diverted until the jams were broken. 
Blown bridges, difficult bypasses, and the 
narrow streets of the towns and villages, 
combined with the constant ff ow of Italian 
civilians, gravely complicated the task of 
the military police in directing highway 
traffic' '' 

Following the capture of Naples the 
principal trucking operations concerned 
port clearance and the delivery of cargo to 
the depots and dumps and from the rail- 
heads to Fifth Army. Because of severe 
damage, the trains lagged behind the 
trucks in accomplishing port clearance. 
During the week 13-20 November 1943, 



an average of 3,000 tons was cleared daily 
by rail, compared with the 3,447 tons per 
day removed by truck. At this time, be- 
cause of excessive rain and mud both the 
Peninsular Base Section and the Fifth 
Army had many inoperative vehicles, the 
daily average of the former being 938 
operative as against 235 inoperative vehi- 
cles, and of the latter 397 operative as 
against 166 inoperative vehicles. Through- 
out the remainder of 1943 the tonnage 
moved by truck from the docks and the 
depots steadily increased. In December 
alone almost 200,000 tons were delivered 
by truck from Naples to Peninsular Base 
Section dumps.' '^ 

Despite inclement weather, rugged ter- 
rain, shortages of spare parts, tires, and 
batteries, and almost constant operation — 
all contributing to a high percentage of 
deadlined vehicles — highway traffic con- 
tinued heavy as Fifth Army sought to 
break through the Winter Line.''-' Behind 
the combat zone, the Corps of Engineers 
repaired and maintained roads while the 
Transportation Corps labored to keep 
traffic ffuid. Toward the close of 1943 in- 
creasingly heavy highway movements 



' ■' For the complete list through D plus 49, see Hist 
Red, SOS NATOUSA. 1-30 Sep 43. Incl 6, OCT HB 
North Africa. 

' •' Skirting the in\asion beaches. Highway 18, a 
macadam road, ran along the west coast from the toe 
of the Italian boot to Naples. 

' "' Sec Kreml's remarks in Trans School, Ft. Eustis. 
Highway Unit Training Pamphlet 9, pp. 96-98, OCT 
HB North Africa Hwy Rpts. 

' ■' Observers Notes on Italian Campaign, 25 Aug- 
7 Oct 43, OCT 370.2 Italy Campaign Rpts; Conf with 
Maj Kreml, TC School, New Orleans, 21-26 Feb 44, 
OCT HB North Africa Hwys. 

'^^ Hist Red, U.S. Trans Sec AFHQ AAE, 13 Nov 
43-1 Jan 44, OCT HB North Africa. 

' ■■' See Military Intelligence Division, U.S. War De- 
partment, Fifth Army at the Winter Line (15 November 
1943^15 January 1944), AMERICAN FORCES IN 
ACTION SERIES (Washington, 1945). 



SICILY AND ITALY 



223 



pointed up the need of closer supervi- 
sion.'"' After preliminary discussion, the 
Advance Administrative Echelon, AFHQ, 
on 24 December 1943, published a basic 
policy for traffic control in the areas be- 
hind the armies. In order to eliminate un- 
authorized travel, traffic police were em- 
powered to remove from the road any 
convoy or casual vehicle not in possession 
of a road movement order or dispatch slip 
from the American or British agency 
authorizing the movement. Detailed regu- 
lations were issued for convoy travel, and 
a convoy commander was made respon- 
sible for control and operation of each 
convoy.' " 

Highway traffic continued to increase 
in early 1944. Duringjanuary the Penin- 
sular Base Section reported a total of 904 
motor convoys, composed of 40,686 vehi- 
cles carrying 7,717 tons of freight and 84,- 
623 passengers.'^- Apart from the usual 
hauling from beach to dump, large num- 
bers of loaded trucks were delivered by 
LST for the resupply of the Anzio forces. 
For this last mission a reserve of approxi- 
mately 1,500 2y2-ton trucks was estab- 
lished under a single command, the 6723d 
Truck Group (Provisional)."^ 

At Anzio the first increment of 500 
waterproofed trucks, each carrying five 
tons, arrived aboard 14 LST's in the as- 
sault convoy. Each LST had been "spread 
loaded" in Naples with Class I, III, and 
V supplies, rather than with one class 
alone, so that loss of the entire cargo 
would not seriously reduce any particular 
supply category. After completing deliv- 
ery to the dumps, the trucks were driven 
to an assembly area for eventual return by 
sea. The second and third increments 
were loaded in the same manner and like 
number as the first, 35 trucks per LST. 
Each truck had only one class of supply. 



so that it stopped at only one dump in 
Naples and one dump in Anzio. 

Beginning on 28 January 1944, a pro- 
gram was initiated for the daily dispatch 
of 300 trucks by LST from Naples to 
Anzio. This arrangement was designed to 
furnish a daily lift of 1,500 tons, of which 
60 percent was allotted to ammunition, 20 
percent to rations, and 20 percent to pe- 
troleum products. Adverse weather con- 
ditions and the diversion of LST's to other 
missions prevented attainment of this goal, 
but the deficit was not serious. 

Within a week after the initial landing, 
four LST's were able to discharge simul- 
taneously at the Anzio docks, and trucks 
no longer needed to be waterproofed. 
Also, the U.S. Navy allowed each LST to 
carry 50 rather than 35 trucks. As ulti- 
mately developed, the cycle began with 
loading at Naples, sailing at 1700, and 
arrival at Anzio at 0600 in the following 
morning. After completion of discharge, 
trucks awaiting return were driven 
aboard head on to save time in departing 
from this hazardous area. The LST's then 
assembled in the harbor and proceeded 
back to Naples. 

Direct delivery of loaded trucks from 
docks to dumps was of immense advan- 
tage at Anzio, enabling the combat troops 
to obtain their immediate needs on short 



"" In December 1943, a spot 24-hour check in the 
Fifth Army area revealed 7,108 casual vehicles on the 
road. In the same month the Peninsular Base Section 
reported 636 motor convoys. Hist Red, U.S. Trans Sec 
AFHQAAE, 19-25 Dec 43 and 26 Dec 43-1 Jan 44. 
OCT HB North Africa. 

'" See copy with Hist Red. U.S. Trans Sec AFHQ 
AAE. 26 Dec 43- 1 Jan 44, OCT HB North Africa. 

"-■ Hist Red, U.S. Trans Sec AFHQAAE. 23-29 
Jan 44. OCT HB North Africa. 

" ■ See Fifth Army History (hereafter cited as Fifth 
Army Hist), Pt. IV.'G-4 History, pp. 2-3, 5-6, 9, 14, 
and Incls 10 and 1 1. AG Opns Rpts. The following 
account is based on this historv. 



224 



THE TRANSPORTATION CORPS 



notice. This truck-and-LST shuttle sys- 
tem was a vital factor in supporting the 
beachhead defenders until the break- 
through of late May, which relieved the 
enemy pressure. On 1 June 1944 the first 
overland motor convoy arrived at Anzio 
via historic Highway 7, bringing 150 
truckloads of ammunition. 

For the advance to Rome, considerable 
reliance was placed upon Highways 6 and 
7 running northward from Naples, of 
which the former became the main supply 
route for the British Eighth Army while 
the latter performed a similar function for 
the U.S. Fifth Army.' " Fortunately, the 
acquisition of additional ports and rail 
facilities to the north of Rome shortened 
the highway hauls and made possible the 
movement of larger tonnages by motor 
transport, since the trucks could operate 
directly from the forward ports rather 
than all the way from Naples. Through- 
out the summer of 1944 highway traffic in 
Italy remained heavy. 

In September 1944 the loss of several 
truck units to the U.S. Fifth and Seventh 
Armies forced the Peninsular Base Section 
to operate its trucks on a twenty-four-hour 
basis and to employ a civilian motor pool 
for the Naples area in order to meet all 
demands. The onset of the rainy season 
brought several washouts, which dam- 
aged roads and bridges and led to tem- 
porary suspension or rerouting of highway 
traffic. Cold weather also pointed up the 
need for determining which highways 
would be safe during the winter months, 
especially in the mountains of northern 
Italy. "^' 

During the ensuing autumn, apart from 
occasional personnel shortages, the bur- 
den of maintenance, a scarcity of spare 
parts, the elements, and the enemy effec- 
tively hindered highway operations. Con- 



tinual rains flooded the roads. Adverse 
weather and German demolition impeded 
the restoration of rail service and in- 
creased the load on motor transport. Early 
in November 1944 abnormal rainfall 
caused several breaks in the track on Line 
50 near Grosseto. While repairs were 
being made, a temporary truck line was 
established that moved approximately 400 
net tons per day from the railhead at 
Alberese to the railway cars at Grosseto. 
Restoration of normal rail traffic on 25 
November released the drivers and the 
thirty-six trucks of the 3826th Quarter- 
master Truck Battalion engaged in this 
shuttle service. Similar truck ferries were 
often improvised during the Italian cam- 
paign in order to keep supplies rolling 
forward.' "' 

Highway traffic was kept fluid by close 
control and supervision. As a rule, mili- 
tary police actually directed traffic, the 
Transportation Corps attended to routing 
and movement control, and the Corps of 
Engineers repaired and maintained the 
roads. Military police had both fixed posts 
and motorized patrols. Traffic Control 
Posts (TCP's) were usually located at im- 
portant road junctions and were intended 
to control and expedite traffic. Each 
Traffic Control Post maintained a heavy 
wrecker to remove disabled trucks and 
had a convoy park adjacent that would 
hold at least fifty vehicles. With the ap- 
proach of winter, snow and ice threatened 
to cut off the highways in the mountain- 
ous area beyond Florence. The Fifth 



' ' ' Fifth Army Hist, Pt. V, pp. 4, 5, and 6. 

• '■ Hist Red, OCT AFHQ NATOUSA, Jul-Scp 44, 
Ijp. 26-27, OCT HB North Africa. 

'"■ Hist Red, U.S. Trans Sec AAI, 1 Oct-4 Nov 44, 
OCT HB North Africa; Hist Red, 7 19th Ry Operat- 
ing Bn, Nov 44, OCT HB North Africa Ry Units; 
Trans News Ltr, MTOUSA, 10 Nov 44, OCT HB 
North Africa. 



SICILY AND ITALY 



225 



Army engineer therefore set up a tem- 
porary system of "snow posts,'' whose per- 
sonnel were responsible for snow removal, 
first aid and medical service, assistance to 
drivers of damaged or stalled vehicles, 
road information, and emergency food, 
fuel, and shelter.^ '' 

Toward the close of 1944 motor trans- 
port in the Peninsular Base Section and 
the Fifth Army areas was under severe 
strain because of lengthening lines of com- 
munication, inadequate equipment, and 
insufficient personnel. The theater des- 
perately needed newer and larger motor- 
ized equipment to replace its old, war- 
weary vehicles. Specifically, the chief of 
transportation had recommended pro- 
curement of cargo vehicles of greater 
capacity than the standard 2y2-ton truck. 
He also wanted to increase the lift capac- 
ity of the truck companies by means of 
truck-tractors, semitrailers, and heavy- 
duty trucks capable of carrying 8 to 10 
tons. To meet his needs the theater requi- 
sitioned 576 truck-tractors and 720 semi- 
trailers, of which the first increment, 289 
truck-tractors and 240 semitrailers, ar- 
rived in December 1944. At the end of 
March 1945 the Peninsular Base Section 
had 587 6-ton to 10-ton truck-tractors and 
semitrailers, 23 4-ton 6x6 trucks, 3,349 
2y2-ton 6x6 trucks, 381 1 y2-ton 4x4 trucks, 
1,626 1-ton two-wheel trailers, and 116 
miscellaneous types of cargo vehicles. 
Meanwhile, Fifth Army had built up its 
stock of motorized equipment by a vigor- 
ous program of rehabilitation and re- 
placement.'^'* 

Actual operation in the theater dis- 
closed various drawbacks of the trucks in 
use. Although the tractor-trailer combi- 
nation gave greater capacity, its utility 
was much restricted by rain, mud, ice, 
snow, and rugged terrain. The 1-ton two- 



wheel trailer was found almost useless on 
the mountainous roads and in the mud- 
filled dumps of Italy. The standard 2V2- 
ton cargo truck, which carried a maxi- 
mum of 4 to 5 tons, was considered the 
most efficient general-purpose vehicle. Its 
body, however, would not hold long pieces 
of pipe or lumber. The theater needed a 
new single-unit 8x8 truck in order to in- 
sure better performance on rough and 
winding roads. The desired vehicle was to 
have a capacity of 8 to 10 tons, an 18-foot 
to 20-foot stake body, and a minimum of 
600 cubic feet of cargo space. The cab- 
over-engine type was preferred because of 
the greater visibility afforded the driver. 
During the war this proposal never got 
beyond the paper stage."'' 

Apart from proper maintenance above 
the second echelon and an adequate sup- 
ply of spare parts and tires, both problems 
of the Ordnance Department, the Trans- 
portation Corps had difficulty in obtain- 
ing sufficient troops for the trucks under 
its supervision or control. The Table of 
Organization of the truck company did 
not, for instance, include the guards re- 
quired to curb pilferage. Experience in 
the North African campaign also demon- 
strated that at least twenty-four extra 
drivers had to be added to the standard 
truck company to permit continuous op- 
eration. Such augmentation teams finally 
were authorized for the theater in 1944. 

By January 1945 Fifth Army had 
twenty-seven augmented truck companies 
and the Peninsular Base Section twenty- 



"' Fifth Army Hist, Pt. VIII, 21-22, 26-27; Engi- 
neer History. Fifth Army. MTO, II, 162, AG Opns 
Rpts. 

i^'* Hist Red, OCT AFHQ, MTOUSA, Jan-Mar 
45, Exhibits L-1 and 0-1-12, OCT HB North Africa; 
Fifth Army Hist, Pt. VIII, pp. 29-30. 

"■' Logistical History of NATOUSA-MTOUSA, pp. 
169-71. 



226 



THE TRANSPORTATION CORPS 



two, of which the latter were all Negro 
units. In addition to the civilian truck 
pool at Naples, the theater made exten- 
sive use of Italian service units. Originally, 
there were thirty Italian military truck 
companies, but this number was reduced 
by the necessity for screening out the un- 
satisfactory personnel, who were later 
pooled in seven companies and employed 
chiefly as labor. For various reasons, in- 
cluding the fact that they were equipped 
largely with lV2-ton trucks, the Italian 
trucking units had less lift capacity than 
similar U.S. Army units. As established by 
a personnel utilization survey in April 
1945 of all trucking units attached to the 
Peninsular Base Section Transportation 
Section, the performance standard for the 
augmented Quartermaster truck com- 
pany manned by U.S. military personnel 
was set at 680 truck-hours per day under 
continuous operation, as compared with 
520 truck-hours per day for the Italian 
military truck company.'"'" 

When hostilities ceased, highway oper- 
ations had reached a peak. In the week 
ending 5 May 1945 the Peninsular Base 
Section and Fifth Army reported the fol- 
lowing results in ton-miles for the two 
principal categories of cargo vehicles:'''' 



Typi 



Peninsular 

Bast 

Section 



Fifth 

Army 



Truck-tractors and semitrailers. , 237,473 170,309 
lYi-ton 6x6 trucks 286, 571 293, 758 

The extent of trucking operations in Italy 
in the closing phase of the campaign is re- 
flected in the statistics covering port clear- 
ance by truck from Leghorn. From its 
opening in late August 1944 through May 
1945, a total of 1,382,872 long tons of 
cargo was cleared from Leghorn. Of that 
amount 1,202,934 long tons were moved 
by truck. During the same period, 1,924,- 



038 long tons were cleared by truck from 
Naples, as compared with 1,471,501 
cleared by rail.' '" 

Many valuable lessons in highway 
transportation were learned in the Italian 
campaign, particularly by Fifth Army, 
which depended mainly upon motor 
transport. '^^ As the result of its wartime 
experience, the Fifth Army Transporta- 
tion Section laid great stress upon a sys- 
tem of strict control for all highway move- 
ments, military and civilian; the augmen- 
tation of truck companies to provide extra 
drivers and other auxiliary personnel for 
around-the-clock operations; the procure- 
ment of additional heavy-duty equipment 
such as the 20-ton truck-trailer unit; an 
adequate communications network; and 
good marking of the roads. 

Other Transport 

Although it was dependent upon ships, 
trains, and trucks to move the bulk of its 
traffic, the Transportation Corps was in- 
terested in all other types of transport that 
could help lighten its load. In Italy, for in- 
stance, the pipelines for the delivery of 
gasoline were not a Transportation Corps 
responsibility, but their use lessened the 
strain on the limited motor and rail facil- 



'■^» Hist Red, OCT AFHQ MTOUSA, Jan-Mar 
45, p. 4 and Exhibits 0-4 and 0-9, OCT HB North 
Africa; Logistical History of NATOUSA-MTOUSA, pp. 
165-69, 171-72. 

'^' The Peninsular Base Section was then using 266 
tractor-trailers (6 to 20 tons) and 1,920 2'/2-ton trucks; 
comparable figures for Fifth Army were 167 tractor- 
trailers (10-ton) and 760 2'/2-ton trucks. Hist Red, 
OCT AFHQ MTOUSA, Apr-Jun 45, Exhibits T-1 
and T-2, OCT HB North Africa. 

'"'-' See rpt cited n. 101. 

'"' ' See Trans Sec Fifth Army, Lessons Learned in 
the Italian Campaign, summarized in OCT HB 
Monograph 17, pp. 253-56. 



SICILY AND ITALY 



227 



ities.' '' Movement of the vast quantities of 
100-octane gasoline required for airplanes 
and 80-octane gasoline for tanks and vehi- 
cles was possible only because of pipelines, 
since neither tank cars nor tank trucks 
were available in sufficient numbers.''" 

Pipelines 

Pipeline deliveries were made from 
Taranto, Bari, and Manfredonia to Allied 
airfields in the Foggia area, and from 
Naples northward in support of the Fifth 
Army ground troops advancing up the 
west coast. Both 4-inch and 6-inch pipes 
were laid, the former handling approxi- 
mately 4,000 barrels of gasoline per day 
and the latter triple that amount. By 22 
December 1943 gasoline was being 
pumped over two pipelines from Naples 
to Calvi Risorta, twenty-five miles beyond. 
The daily capacity of 260,00 gallons filled 
the requirements of Fifth Army. During 
January 1944 the utilization of this double 
pipeline saved an average of 50 railway 
cars daily, or from 250 to 300 trucks. Sub- 
sequent extensions of the system resulted 
in similar saving in transportation.'""' 

Although subject both to pilferage and 
sabotage, the pipeline presented such a 
small target as to be well-nigh immune to 
enemy air attack and artillery fire. Unlike 
the average road, the pipeline was un- 
affected by the weather, and it could be 
used constantly and without fear of con- 
gestion. It is therefore no wonder that the 
pipelines were pushed steadily northward 
from Naples to the Po Valley and to all 
points where gasoline had to be furnished 
in appreciable amounts for any length of 
time.'" 

Air Transport 

The theater chief of transportation and 
his staff performed largely a co-ordinating 



function with respect to air transport. The 
Air Facilities Board, AFHQ, established 
the priorities. All demands from the 
ground forces for air space for personnel 
and freight were first screened by the Air 
Branch of the AFHQ Movements and 
Transportation Section, of which the 
American staff became in effect the Air 
branch of the office of the U.S. theater 
chief of transportation. ' "'~^ 

Air transport was employed mainly to 
move personnel, mail, and critical items 
such as serums, spare parts, mortars, mor- 
tar ammunition, and signal equipment. 
During the early months of the Italian 
campaign air cargo for Italy proper ran 
fairly heavy. Most air freight originated 
within the theater, but some shipments 
came directly from the United States. In 
December 1943 a total of 160,188 pounds 
of SOS freight arrived at airfields on the 
Italian mainland, principally in the 
Naples area. Air freight remained impor- 
tant throughout the campaign, although 
the actual tonnages hauled were not 
impressive.' '" 

Because the constantly increasing de- 
mand threatened to overtax the existing 
facilities, on 10 December 1943 AFHQ, 



15J Overseas, the Corps of Engineers was responsi- 
ble for the procurement, maintenance, and operation 
of pipeHnes. 

•^'' Logistical History of NATOUSA-MTOUSA, pp. 
172-76. Cf. Interv, Mathews and Tate, 19 Jan 49. 
OCMH Files. 

' " 1st Ind, Exec Officer OCT AFHQ to OCT ASF, 
Washington, 29 May 44, OCT HB North Africa 
Pipelines. 

'■'' Fifth Army Hist, Pts. H, 68, HI, 70, V, 5, VI, 
115-16, and IX, 30; Logistical History of NATOUSA- 
MTOUSA, pp. 194-203. 

'-"* Hist Red, OCT AFHQ NATOUSA, activation 
to 31 Oct 43, Sec. Ill (4) and Tab AE, OCT HB 
North Africa. 

'■•^' Logistical History of NATOUSA-MTOUSA, pp. 
176; Hist Red, Trans Sec SOS, NA,TOUSA, Dec 43, 
OCT HB North Africa. 



228 



THE TRANSPORTATION CORPS 



directed that passenger traffic by air be 
reduced at once and that transportation 
by air be authorized only on the basis of 
importance to the war effort. Thereafter, 
the number of personnel moved by air 
was reduced appreciably by closer screen- 
ing of travel requests and by employing 
surface transportation except for the most 
urgent missions. In May 1944 the Air 
Branch, OCT AFHQ, was also made re- 
sponsible for receiving and processing all 
ground forces requests for air travel orders 
and collecting and distributing air tickets. 
Effective 14 June 1944, a separate aircraft 
pool (three Hudsons and one Dakota) was 
formed for VIP's in order to enable gen- 
eral officers and important officials to 
travel with their own parties on special 
missions. "''^' 

The removal in July 1944 of AFHQ 
and the Headquarters, SOS, NATOUSA, 
from Algiers to Caserta eliminated much 
of the previous shuttling back and forth 
between North Africa and Italy. How- 
ever, at the same time air evacuation of 
patients to the zone of interior was begun 
on a large scale. The primary purpose was 
to relieve congestion in the theater hospi- 
tals, since evacuation by water was not 
sufficiently effective. In July 900 patients 
were evacuated by air from the Mediter- 
ranean and Peninsular Base Sections. 

The invasion of southern France 
brought a decided spurt in air travel, with 
daily flights scheduled to Marseille and 
Dijon by the Mediterranean and Euro- 
pean theaters. From 6 December 1944 on, 
the integrated American-British Air 
Group under the Movements and Trans- 
portation Section, AFHQ, was made re- 
sponsible for all matters pertaining to 
demands of the ground forces for air 
movement, including policy, planning. 



and operations. Air traffic continued im- 
portant throughout the remainder of the 
Italian campaign, especially for evacu- 
ation of sick and wounded personnel to 
the zone of interior.'"' 

Animal Transport 

In sharp contrast to the speed of aircraft 
was the slow steady pace of the pack horse 
and the mule. Yet the latter could deliver 
a load in rugged tracts of land where 
neither jeep, truck, nor plane — except for 
airdrop — normally could be counted 
upon for supply. In the mountains of 
Italy, the highly mechanized U.S. Army 
was forced to fall back upon primitive, but 
nonetheless effective, animal transport. 
When the Italian campaign began. Fifth 
Army had only the one pack train that 
the 3d Division had used in Sicily. Its per- 
formance had impressed General Clark. 
Looking at the map of Italy in late Sep- 
tember 1943, he foresaw the need of more 
of this type of transportation for the long 
trek northward. At his request a study was 
made that showed that 1,300 mules were 
needed for the Fifth Army. However, few 
animals could be had and equipment and 
forage were scarce both in Italy and North 
Africa.'"'" 

As Fifth Army advanced beyond 
Naples, pack trains had to be employed to 
insure the supply of units operating in the 
high mountains. Accordingly, the G-4, 
Fifth Army, requisitioned several hundred 

'"" Hist Red, OCT AFHQ NATOUSA, Oct-Dec 

43, Jan-Mar 44, p. 6 with atchd air rpt, and Apr- Jun 

44, p. 6, and ExhibitsJ and K, OCT HB North Africa. 
"" Hist Red, OCT AFHQ NATOUSA, Jul-Sep 

44, p. 5, Oct-Dec 44, pp. 3-4, 10, 15-16, and Exhibits 
D-5, D-6, D-8, D-9, D-11, E-7, and H-2, Jan-Mar 45, 
pp. 2, 7-8, 13-14 and Exhibit D-9, Apr-Jan 45, pp. 
2-3, OCT HB North Africa. 

'"- Fifth Army Hist, Pt. H, pp. 67-68. Cf. Diary, 
Gen Lucas, H, 25-26, OCMH Files. 



SICILY AND ITALY 



229 



mules to equip hastily organized Italian 
pack-train companies. The Peninsular 
Base Section acquired mules from every 
possible source within the theater but it 
was unable to meet all demands. Impor- 
tation of American mules was deemed in- 
advisable because they would require 
large amounts of hay and grain that could 
not be procured locally, whereas Italian 
mules were accustomed to getting along 
on home-grown hay and tibben (chopped 
straw).'"' The forage problem in Italy be- 
came so serious that in the fall of 1943 an 
AFHQ Joint Purchasing Forage Board 
was established. The necessary shoes, 
nails, and pack equipment also proved 
hard to procure. However, by 12 Decem- 
ber 1943, Fifth Army had 2,257 pack ani- 
mals, and the number increased steadily 
during the winter months.""' 

Fifth Army operations along the Winter 
Line were highly dependent upon mules. 
On the flatlands, jeeps and trucks could 
plow through the thick Italian mud, but 
miles of rough trail could be traversed 
only by mules. Each mule usually carried 
about 220 pounds of supplies. In the for- 
ward areas this type of transport was in 
constant demand."*' 

For many American soldiers mules 
were unique, and at first everything had 
to be improvised, even to the mule skin- 
ners. A provisional pack troop was organ- 
ized for each division, with personnel 
drawn mostly from service companies. 
Except for the 3d Division, which brought 
its own mules from Sicily, the first mules 
used by Fifth Army units were purchased 
in the rear areas or requisitioned from 
nearby farmers. Late in 1943 a French 
veterinary hospital was obtained to help 
conserve the small supply of animals and 
regular French and Italian pack-train 



units were secured from North Africa and 
Sardinia. The troops of the Italian pack- 
train companies performed admirably. 
Poorly clad, they worked long hours with- 
out food or rest, trudging along with their 
mules in all sorts of weather and over the 
most diflRcult terrain."''' 

The Italian units were equally indis- 
pensable during the second winter of the 
war in Italy. The forage problem was 
magnified when the U.S. 10th Mountain 
Division reached Italy late in 1944, bring- 
ing American mules accustomed to eating 
American hay and grain. Altogether, this 
division required the importation of ap- 
proximately 7,120 mules, plus another 
500 mules per month as replacements. In 
order to transport these animals from the 
United States to Italy, nine mule ships 
were withdrawn from the Burma-India 
run. The first of these vessels, the William 
J. Palmer, was discharged at Civitavecchia 
early in March 1945. Other mule ships 
arrived in April, but thereafter no further 
shipments were required."'' 

The Final Phase 

Mountains and mules marked the close 
of combat for the Allied armies in Italy. 
Although the Germans did not surrender 



^''' On the respective merits of American and Italian 
mules, see Interv, Mathews and Tate, 19 Jan 49, 
OCMH Files. 

^''^ Eudora Ramsay Richardson and Sherman Al- 
len, Qiiartermaster Supply in the Fifth Army in World \Vm 
//(Fort Lee. Va.. 1950), p. 19. 

i«:. Fifth Army at the Winter Line. p. 90. 

"*'• See Interv, Mathews and Tate, 19 Jan 49, 
OCMH Files. 

" ' Hist Red, OCT AFHQ MTOUSA, Jan-Mar 
45, E.xhibit 0-9, Apr-Jun 45, E.xhibit X-2, OCT HB 
North Africa. 



230 



THE TRANSPORTATION CORPS 



until 2May 1945, redeployment of Amer- 
ican troops had already begun during the 
preceding month, when approximately 
3,200 Air Forces personnel left for the 
United States. The two major ports for 
outloading redeployed personnel were 
Naples and Leghorn, especially the latter 
since most U.S. troops were stationed 
north of Rome. As in other theaters, rede- 
ployment struck hard at the Transporta- 
tion Corps, adding to its work at the very 
time when its most experienced personnel 
were being sent home. 

Upon the cessation of hostilities and 
after clearance with Washington, the the- 
ater diverted various vessels carrying ma- 
teriel no longer needed, and stopped the 
discharge of nonessential cargo from 
others. In several instances ships already 
on hand were reloaded with ammunition, 
pierced-steel planking, vehicles, and 
heavy weapons, and then rerouted to the 
Pacific. All told, sixteen vessels arriving 
in Convoys UGS-84 to 89 were returned 
to the United States undischarged. Dur- 
ing May 1945 the bulk of the redeployed 
military personnel leaving Italy belonged 
to the Air Forces."''' 

The tempo of redeployment began 
picking up during June. In that month 
twenty units under Transportation Corps 
control were redeployed from the theater, 
including five port companies and six 
Quartermaster truck companies destined 
for the Southwest Pacific. Because of the 
shortage of service troops incident to the 
redeployment, both the Peninsular Base 
Section and the Fifth Army made exten- 
sive use of surrendered enemy personnel. 
In June the Peninsular Base Section 
Transportation Section organized ap- 
proximately 4,500 German POW's into 
various service units, including 8 port 
companies and 10 Quartermaster service 



companies. In the same month the Trans- 
portation Section of Fifth Army had about 
2,000 Germans working at the railheads 
and 1,000 Germans operating trucks. 
Subsequently, increasing reliance was 
placed on the use of German POW's, 
along with Italian service units, to fill the 
gaps left by departing American trans- 
portation troops."'-' 

Redeployment traffic continued on the 
upswing duringjuly 1945. A total of 54,- 
609 passengers was moved out of the thea- 
ter by sea transport, and outloading of 
cargo constituted a major port activity. 
The bulk of the general cargo and vehi- 
cles, 107,478 dead-weight tons, was out- 
loaded at Naples, as compared with 50,- 
747 tons at Leghorn. In the Peninsular 
Base Section trucking operations were 
hard hit by a severe shortage of trained 
drivers, necessitating the transfer of low- 
score personnel from Fifth Army units to 
the trucking companies. Rail movements 
to port staging areas and redeployment 
centers increased, and early in the month 
the MRS completed the rehabilitation of 
Line 69 running from Bologna through 
Verona to the Brenner Pass. This project 
linked northern and southern Italy for the 
first time since February 1943. Apart from 
playing a vital role in the redeployment 
and demobilization of the U.S. Army, the 
reconstructed line also proved useful in 
repatriating American and British person- 
nel, evacuating German prisoners of war, 



"^^ Hist Red, OCT AFHQMTOUSA, Apr-Jun 45, 
pp. 4-5 and Exhibit X-6, OCT HB North Africa. 

'"■■'Ibid., p. 13; Logistical History of NATOUSA- 
MTOUSA, pp. 287-88. As of 2 September 1945 there 
were 34 Italian Service units and 1 12 German POW 
units performing transportation duties in the theater. 
The Germans were then manning 20 port, 41 truck, 
and 19 service companies. See Hist Red, OCT AFHQ 
MTOUSA, Jul-Sep 45, Exhibit F-4, OCT HB North 
Africa. 



SICILY AND ITALY 



231 



and returning Italian refugees to southern 
Italy.''" 

Upon the cessation of hostilities with 
Japan in August 1945, outloading for the 
Pacific was abruptly curtailed. Seaborne 
personnel movements reached a peak in 
August 1945 of almost 92,000 passengers, 
of whom the vast majority, about 84,000, 
were destined for the United States. All 
available shipping was employed to move 
U.S. personnel from the theater, includ- 
ing the regular troopships, hospital ships, 
converted Italian liners, and many fitted 
Liberty and Victory ships. 

Loading beyond the normal passenger 
capacity was the rule, the Liberty and 
Victory ships being overloaded as much 
as 30 percent.' ' This was far from luxury 
travel, but since ships were scarce it was 
necessary to sacrifice comfort in order to 
speed the repatriation process. The Wake- 
field set a theater record by lifting 8,227 
passengers from Naples on 13 August. The 
former Italian passenger liner, Vulcania, 
made her first voyage as a U.S. troopship, 
sailing from Naples for New York at noon 
on 25 September with 4,770 passengers 
aboard, among whom were the majority 
of the Wacs in MTOUSA. By late Octo- 
ber 1945, when the U.S. Army hospital 
ship Algonquin lifted more than 450 pas- 
sengers, the theater had cleared from Italy 
almost all patients scheduled for transfer 
to the United States.''" 

As U.S. Army strength in Italy dimin- 
ished, American transportation activities 
were progressively curtailed and consoli- 
dated. The transfer of the operation and 
maintenance of remaining lines to the 
Italian State Railways had been com- 
pleted in late June 1945, and thereafter 
the Allies devoted their efforts primarily 
to supervisory control. During that sum- 
mer plans were laid for the removal of 



ports from military control, and, as troops 
were withdrawn from the north, motor 
transport activities were increasingly con- 
centrated in the Naples and Leghorn 
areas. By September 1945 the bulk of the 
Fifth Army had left Italy. Early in that 
month the Fifth Army Transportation 
Section closed operations upon the trans- 
fer of its highway functions to the Penin- 
sular Base Section. Meanwhile, the latter 
had become the principal legatee of the 
theater transportation headquarters.' '' 

Port operations continued to be carried 
on by the 8th Port at Naples and the 10th 
Port at Leghorn. On 25 November 1945 
the 8th Port was inactivated, and there- 
after the 10th Port was responsible for 
operations at both Naples and Leghorn. 
At the end of the year the Peninsular Base 
Section Transportation Section and Head- 
quarters, 10th Port, were consolidated 
under the commanding officer of the 
latter unit. Colonel Cobb, who was 
also designated Chief of Transportation, 
MTOUSA. '^^ 

Continuing U.S. rail activities, includ- 
ing the maintenance and disposal of sur- 
plus property and equipment and the 
supervision of Italian rail operations sup- 
porting American forces, were handled by 



'■» Hist Red, OCT AFHQ MTOUSA, Jul-Sep 45, 
Ch. I, p. 3 and Exhibit G-1; MRS, Italy, Rehabilita- 
tion of Line 69, Bologna-Brenner. I Sep 45, OCT HB 
North Africa MRS; Logistical History of NAT OL'SA- 
MTOUSA, pp. 453-54. 

''' Because of inclement weather, overloading on 
the Liberties was discontinued on 1 October 1945. 
Overloaded, the Liberty vessel could carry about 700 
men and the Victory ship from 1,900 to almost 2,000 
men. 

>■- Trans News Ltrs, MTOUSA, issues of Jul-Oct 
45. OCT HB North Africa. 

''•■-■ Trans News Ltr, 18Jun 45, p. 1; Hist Red, OCT 
AFHQ MTOUSA, Jul-Sep 45, Ch. L pp. 1-3, Ch. II, 
pp. 1-3, Ch. Ill, pp. 1-3, and Exhibits E-2 and E-3. 
Both in OCT HB MTOUSA. 

'" ^ Hist, 10th Port, Nov and Dec 45, DRB AGO. 



232 



THE TRANSPORTATION CORPS 



the 774th Railway Grand Division, under 
the Office of the Deputy Director, MRS, 
Italy. The 774th, which by mid- 1946 had 
been converted into a small supervisory 
group, remained active until November 
1947.^'' The principal reason for pro- 
longed service of the 774th was the use of 
the Italian railways for the maintenance 
of American occupation forces in the area 
around Trieste. In Italy as elsewhere over- 



seas the need of U.S. Army transportation 
activities persisted long after hostilities 
ceased. 



'' ' On the 774th and its successors, see the follow- 
ing: Hist Red, 774th Ry Grand Div, Oct 45; Monthly 
Statistical and Progress Rpt, 774th Ry Grand Div, 
Feb-Mar 46; Hist Red, MRS Italy, 6603d Ry Super- 
visory Gp; Hist Red, 7107th Ry Supervisory Gp 
(Ovhd), Oct 46, Aug 47. All in OCT HB North Africa 
Ry Units. Also see Ltr, Sidney E. London to Larson, 
6 Jul 51, OCT HB Inquiries. 



CHAPTER VI 



The Invasion of Normandy 



After the severe setback occasioned by 
the decision to undertake the North Afri- 
can operation, planning for the invasion 
of northern France was revived in the 
spring of 1943. The approval of COSSAC's 
Overlord plan at Quadrant in August, 
and subsequent decisions at the Sextant 
Conference, gave newiiTipetus to prepara- 
tions for the cross-Channel operation. In 
the latter half of 1943 the major Allied 
and U.S. tactical commands and subcom- 
mands of the forces to be engaged in con- 
tinental operations were set up in the 
United Kingdom, and in January 1944 
COSSAC became Supreine Headquarters, 
Allied Expeditionary Force (SHAEF). 

During the next five months the pro- 
jected Overlord operation underwent 
continued study, and detailed plans for its 
implementation were worked out. As 
finally developed. Overlord called for 
airborne landings in the Caen and Caren- 
tan areas, closely followed by amphibious 
assaults on the Normandy beaches on the 
east side of the Cotentin peninsula and 
between the Orne River and the Carentan 
estuary. The assault was to be followed by 
the early capture of Cherbourg in the west 
and a rapid advance inland. The beach- 
head would be simultaneously expanded 
southward and eastward to include the 
Brittany peninsula and the area between 
the Loire and Seine Rivers. This lodgment 
area, which would serve as the spring- 
board for further offensive operations, was 



to be secured in a three-month period.' 
The mounting of Overlord was begun 
in mid-May 1944, and on 6 June the 
assault on the Continent got underway. 
The transportation task involved in the 
execution of the operational plan was 
formidable. A force of 1,350,000 U.S. 
troops, together with their organizational 
equipinent and vehicles, had to be moved 
from the United Kingdom to the Conti- 
nent in a ninety-day period. The support 
of this force required the shipment from 
Britain and directly from the United 
States of vast amounts of ammunition, ra- 
tions, clothing, fuel and lubricants, con- 
struction materials, rolling stock, and other 
materials. On the far shore, men and cargo 
had to be received over beaches and 
through badly damaged ports. Motor 
transport operations had to be established 
to handle beach and port clearance and 
all other interior transport pending the 
capture and rehabilitation of railways. 
Obviously, such operations required 
months of intensive planning and prepa- 
ration. In the period before D Day, the 
Transportation Corps in the United King- 
dom played an important part in laying 
the groundwork for outloading and sup- 
porting U.S. forces engaged in Overlord, 
and for developing transportation opera- 
tions on the Continent. 



' Ruppenthal, Logistical Support of the Armies, I, 1 76- 
»9; Grn Bd Rpt, USFET, Study J, p. 24, OCT HB 
ETO. 



234 



THE TRANSPORTATION CORPS 



The Establishment of Planning Machinery 
for Continental Operations 

Transportation Corps planning for con- 
tinental operations began early, but was 
limited by the lack of firm tactical plans. 
Until the fall of 1943 Transportation plan- 
ning was handled for General Ross by a 
small section under Colonel Traub. Traub 
participated in various conferences held 
by COSSAC, worked with the British on 
plans for a joint stockpile of transportation 
materiel, and pushed through troop lists 
and operational projects prepared by vari- 
ous divisions in the Transportation Corps' 
theater headquarters. In the absence of 
definite operational plans, determination 
of materiel requirements was made on the 
basis of the theater's projected troop 
strength. - 

Once the Overlord plan was given 
limited distribution, and various Allied 
and U.S. headquarters had come into be- 
ing, the theater chief of transportation was 
able to begin detailed planning. On 14 
September 1943 he activated an advance 
echelon to plan for transportation opera- 
tions on the Continent. Headed by Colo- 
nel Traub, who was designated a deputy 
chief of transportation, the Advance 
Echelon was set up to parallel the parent 
organization. By the spring of 1944 it had 
seven divisions — Military Railways, Ma- 
rine Operations, Movements, Motor 
Transportation, Administration, Intelli- 
gence, and Supply. 

As the Army's logistical agency, SOS 
was not only responsible for mounting and 
supporting U.S. forces engaged in Over- 
lord but was also charged with develop- 
ing the communications zone on the Con- 
tinent. At the direction of SHAEF, SOS 
activated the Forward Echelon, Commu- 
nications Zone (FECZ), in February 1944, 
to draw up plans for logistical operations 



on the Continent during the entire ninety- 
day period, and to precede it to the Conti- 
nent and prepare the way for a Commu- 
nications Zone headquarters. The Ad- 
vance Echelon, under Colonel Traub, 
became the Transportation Section of 
FECZ. 

Within FECZ, the Transportation Sec- 
tion was delegated the task of developing 
the transportation aspects of the plan. 
Working closely with SHAEF, the 21 
Army Group, which was to be the first 
Allied headquarters on the Continent, and 
the U.S. First Army, which was to control 
initial U.S. forces and operations on the 
far shore, Traub's organization was able to 
formulate the general outlines of the per- 
sonnel and equipment requirements and 
the functions and responsibilities of the 
Transportation Corps on the Continent. 
The transportation plan was incorporated 
into the FECZ plan, which was issued for 
distribution on 14 May 1944.^ 

The logistical plan proved a valuable 
contribution, but FECZ headquarters 
never operated on the Continent in the 
manner intended. For reasons that will be 
discussed later, the date at which it was to 
take over direction of logistical operations 
was delayed, and Communications Zone 
headquarters was phased forward to arrive 
on the Continent earlier than planned. 
Transportation Corps personnel of FECZ 



- Memo, Traub for Chief Contl and Ping OCT 
COMZONE ETO, 10 May 45, sub: Summary of 
Ping, atchd to Annex 1 of Rpt, Consolidated His- 
torical Report on Transportation Corps Activities in 
the European Theater of Operations, May 1942 
Through V-E Day (hereafter cited as Consolidated 
Rpt on TC Activities in ETO); Hist Rpt, TC ETO, I, 
14-17. Both in OCT HB ETO. Ltr, Ross to Larson, 9 
Mar 49, OCT HB Inquiries. 

' Ross ltr cited n. 2; Consolidated Rpt on TC Ac- 
tivides in ETO, p. 24; Hist Rpt, TC ETO, II, 138-44; 
COMZONE Trans Plan, Hq FECZ ETO, 10 May 44, 
Annex 13 to COMZONE Plan, AG Opns Rpts RG 
207 Red Vault USFET COMZONE Trans Plan; 
Ruppenthal, op. at., pp. 207-1 1, 215. 



THE INVASION OF NORMANDY 



235 



who moved to the Continent served with 
the Advance Section, and were later re- 
turned to the chief of transportation upon 
his move to the Continent with Communi- 
cations Zone headquarters. 

The Advance Section (ADSEC), Com- 
munications Zone, formally activated at 
Bristol in February 1944, was to be the 
first U.S. Army logistical agency on the 
Continent. Initially attached to the U.S. 
First Army, ADSEC would gradually take 
over Communications Zone activities, and, 
upon the assumption of control of those 
activities by FECZ and the establishment 
of additional base sections, move forward 
behind the armies to provide close con- 
tinuous support. ADSEC was charged 
with detailed planning for the period from 
D Day to D plus 4 1 , at which time FECZ 
was expected to take over. ' 

The formation of an ADSEC transpor- 
tation headquarters began in February 
1944 when a small group of men from the 
4th Port and the 3d Group Regulating 
Station under Colonel Sibley, former com- 
mander of the Mersey area ports, was 
gathered together at Transportation Corps 
headquarters at London. Initial activity 
dealt mainly with plans for the operation 
of Cherbourg, since Sibley had been desig- 
nated to take command of that port. 
Shortly thereafter. Col. William C. Koenig 
was appointed transportation officer, and 
served in that capacity until the transfer 
of the Transportation Section to Bristol in 
March. There, Col. George W. Beeler was 
appointed transportation officer, his staff 
was augmented, and the scope of planning 
was greatly expanded. By the end of the 
month, divisions had been established cov- 
ering all major transportation activities, 
including movements, and highway, rail, 
and marine operations. In the remaining 
period before D Day, additional Transpor- 
tation Corps personnel were assigned from 



traffic regulating groups and replacement 
centers, and on 8 May an Ordnance offi- 
cer. Col. Clarence W. Richmond, was as- 
signed to the section to organize a motor 
transport brigade, which was to control all 
motor transport units on the beaches and 
at the Normandy ports. During this 
period, the section prepared several stand- 
ing operating procedures covering traffic 
control, motor convoy operation, and 
other projected activities of the Transpor- 
tation Section or its divisions. 

The principal planning achievciTient of 
the ADSEC Transportation Section was 
its program for the period from D Day to 
D plus 41, which was issued as part of the 
ADSEC Neptune plan on 30 April 1944, 
and finally revised on 1 June. This plan 
was drawn up in co-ordination with the 
FECZ Transportation Section, and while 
it differed in some respects from the FECZ 
plan it had the effect of filling in the out- 
lines of that plan for the ADSEC period of 
responsibility. While the plans in general 
agreed on the role of the Transportation 
Corps at various phases of Overlord, the 
ADSEC plan was more specific and de- 
tailed. For example, the FECZ plan only 
set forth the type of transportation units 
required at each stage of operations, while 
the ADSEC plan included detailed sched- 
ules for the timing of the arrival and the 
initial location of each of the 234 transpor- 
tation units that were to engage in opera- 
tions on the far shore during the first 
forty-one days. ' 



^ Ruppenthal, op. at. , pp. 213-14. 

^ Hist. Trans Sec ADSEC COMZONE ETOUSA, 
activation to 30 Sep 44, OCT HB ADSEC; Opns 
Plan, ADSEC COMZONE. 30 Apr 44, Annex 14, 
Trans, AG Adm ETO 377; COMZONE Trans Plan 
cited n. 3. 

The code name Neptune was used for security 
reasons after September 1943 on all Overlord 
planning papers which referred to the target area and 
date. 



236 



THE TRANSPORTATION CORPS 



Planning as ofD Day 

By D Day there were in existence plans 
covering virtually every aspect of transpor- 
tation operations to be undertaken on the 
Continent during the Overlord period. 
These were part of over-all plans for the 
development of logistical operations in an 
evolving communications zone. In gen- 
eral, it was contemplated that U.S. and 
British forces would control separate lines 
of communication, with co-ordination pro- 
vided by 21 Army Group. In the Ameri- 
can zone, the First U.S. Army would 
control all tactical and administrative 
activities until the advent of the 1st U.S. 
Army Group, which would take over upon 
the arrival of a second American army 
headquarters. 

During the first forty days after D Day, 
according to the plan, the U.S. lines of 
communication would be extended in a 
north-south direction along the axis 
Cherbourg- Vitre. Men and supplies 
would come in over the beaches and 
through the ports of the Cotentin penin- 
sula and flow southward to depots or 
direct to using units. All logistical opera- 
tions were initially to be under the com- 
mand of the First Army. Personnel and 
equipment for beach operations were to 
be provided by the First Army and its 
attached Advance Section, Communica- 
tions Zone. As tactical forces moved for- 
ward, ADSEC would gradually take over 
communications zone activities, including 
the operation of ports, motor transport, 
and railways. By about D plus 20, First 
Army would draw a rear boundary. 
ADSEC would then be detached from 
First Army, take control of activities be- 
hind the rear boundary, including the 
beaches and ports, and in effect act as 
Communications Zone headquarters. Su- 



pervision of ADSEC would be exercised 
by FECZ, first attached to the 21 Army 
Group staflf and later to the 1st Army 
Group. 

It was expected that beginning approx- 
imately D plus 41 the lines of communica- 
tion would gradually shift from a north- 
south to a west-east direction. With the 
uncovering of the Brittany ports, the flow 
of supplies would more and more move 
eastward along the axis Brest-Le Mans. A 
base section would be brought in to de- 
velop the Brest and Quiberon Bay areas in 
Brittany. At this point, FECZ headquar- 
ters would become operational and 
assume control of the entire Communica- 
tions Zone. As the west-east line of com- 
munications was developed, ADSEC 
would move forward to provide direct 
support to the armies, and a base section 
would be organized to take over command 
of the area it had relinquished. The 
groundwork would then be laid for the 
transfer of Communications Zone head- 
quarters from the United Kingdom to the 
Continent on D plus 90.'' 

General Concepts 

The phasing of logistical operations and 
commands was planned with a keen 
awareness of their transportation implica- 
tions. From a transportation point of 
view, the major problems were expected 
to be the development of sufficient beach 
and port capacity and the establishment 
of adequate motor transport operations. 
Since Allied planners recognized that pro- 



« COMZONE Plan, Hq FECZ ETOUSA, 14 May 
44, Sec. IV, AG Opns Rpts RG 207 Red Vault 
USFET COMZONE Orel Plan; History of G-4, Com- 
munications Zone, ETO (hereafter cited as Hist of G-4 
COMZONE ETO), Sec. VII, pp. 19-21, OCMH 
Files; Rui)p(iitlial, op. cit., pp. 108-09. 



THE INVASION OF NORMANDY 



237 



longed dependence on beaches and un- 
protected anchorages might well prove 
disastrous, they provided for the erection 
of two artificial ports on the far shore, one 
to be American-operated, and for the early 
opening of Cherbourg and a number of 
minor Normandy ports. Mindful of the 
World War I experience, the Allied plan- 
ners relied on the capture of the Brittany 
ports, notably Brest, to furnish enough 
capacity to handle a large part of the in- 
coming traffic in the latter stages of the 
operation. It was contemplated that the 
lines of communication would have to 
depend on motor transport for much of 
the Overlord period, with such relief as 
could be provided by pipelines. Destruc- 
tion of rail facilities was expected to make 
rail operations impracticable before D plus 
50, other than for local port clearance, and 
to limit traffic for some time thereafter.' 
Transportation planning dealt with the 
phasing in of transportation headquarters, 
units, and equipment and the progressive 
development of activities at each stage of 
operations. During the first phase, D to D 
plus 25, the Transportation Corps would 
provide troops and equipment to assist the 
Engineer special brigades assigned to the 
First Army in the discharge of cargo, 
vehicles, and personnel through the St. 
Laurent-sur-Mer (Omaha), La Madeleine 
(Utah), and Quineville beaches, the 
artificial port at St. Laurent-sur-Mer 
(Mulberry A), and the nearby minor 
ports of Isigny, Grandcamp-les-Bains, and 
St. Vaast-la-Hougue. The Corps would 
also furnish men and equipment to 
ADSEC to operate the ports of Cher- 
bourg, Barfleur, and Granville; clear sup- 
plies from ports to forward depots and 
units; establish traffic control in the major 
port area; operate any rehabilitated rail- 
way rolling stock that had been captured; 



and supplement pipelines and the Army's 
organic transportation in hauling bulk 
and packaged POL to the First Army. 
These activities would be directed by the 
ADSEC Transportation Section, which 
also would be preparing to take over 
transportation responsibilities for the area 
that was to become the communications 
zone. By D plus 25, some 24,242 Trans- 
portation Corps personnel would be on 
the Continent, exclusive of those on the 
beaches. "^ 

From D plus 26 to D plus 41, the 
ADSEC Transportation Section would in 
effect be the transportation headquarters 
for the communications zone, assuming 
responsibility for the provision of trans- 
portation for the support of the U.S. 
forces. It would operate all major and 
minor ports, including St. Malo; control 
marine traffic by recommending ports of 
entry to SOS headquarters; operate and 
maintain railways as they were brought 
into service; conduct motor transport op- 
erations necessary for port clearance, 
static operations, and line of communica- 
tions hauling, including the movement of 
POL from ports, beach areas, and pipe- 
line terminals; provide traffic regulation 
on highways and railroads; and set up 
regulating stations to control movement 
across Army rear boundaries. It would 
also prepare to turn over to Communica- 



■ Hist of G-4 COMZONE ETO, Sec. VII, Pt. I, 
Tab 2b, Special Problem — Continental Transporta- 
tion; COMZONE Plan, Hq FECZ ETOUSA. Sec. 
XI, AG Opns Rpts RG 207 Red Vault USFET 
COMZONE; Memo, Col Hugh A. Murrill, Contl and 
Ping, for Ross, 7 Jul 44, sub: Rpt on Normandy Ports, 
USFET OCT 323.3 Cotentin Ports Survey, KCRC 
AGO. On the artificial ports see below, pp. 275-76. 

*• Unless otherwise indicated, the discussion of 
transportation planning is based upon: COMZONE 
Trans Plans cited n. 3; and Neptune Opns Plan, Hq 
ADSEC COMZONE, 30 Apr 44, Annex 14, Trans, 
AG Adm ETO 377 Annexes 7-15, Item 4. 



238 



THE TRANSPORTATION CORPS 



tions Zone headquarters and base sections 
such transportation units, installations, 
and activities as could not be carried for- 
ward in the advance. By D plus 41, there 
would be 36,811 Transportation Corps 
troops under ADSEC. The bulk of this 
personnel would consist of port and truck 
troops, although railway, harbor craft, 
marine maintenance, amphibian truck 
(DUKW), traffic regulation, and base 
depot units also would be on duty. 

During this period the FECZ Transpor- 
tation Section would be concerned mainly 
with the provision of units and equipment 
to ADSEC, and with preparations to take 
over communications zone operations. It 
was also to begin organizing rail oper- 
ations and to phase in Transportation 
Corps troops and equipment for attach- 
ment to the two base sections that were to 
be set up behind ADSEC. 

In the final phase, D plus 41 to D plus 
90, the FECZ Transportation Section 
would operate as the transportation corps 
in the communications zone. It would as- 
sume control of rail and motor operations, 
allocate to ADSEC and the base sections 
personnel and equipment to operate ports, 
line of communications hauling, and traf- 
fic control, and phase in additional units 
which would be required. It was expected 
that during this period the Brittany ports 
of Brest, Quiberon Bay, and Lorient 
would be opened, rail operations would 
be organized under FECZ direction by 
the 2d Military Railway Service, and 
planned rail and road networks would be 
placed in operation. 

Beach and Port Operations 

The development of beach and port op- 
erations was planned to provide for a 



capacity somewhat in excess of that actu- 
ally required for the support of the forces 
moved to the Continent." Discharge capa- 
bilities were expected to expand from ap- 
proximately 14,700 long tons per day on 
D plus 10 to about 45,950 long tons by D 
plus 90.'" The Omaha, Utah, and Quine- 
ville beaches were to begin discharge on 
D Day. The artificial port at Omaha 
would be opened on D plus 12, and the 
small nearby ports of Isigny, St. Laurent- 
sur-Mer, and St. Vaast-la-Hougue be- 
tween D plus 12 and D plus 21. These 
installations would be operated by the 
Engineer special brigades, with the assist- 
ance of Transportation Corps troops, in- 
cluding a major port headquarters, port, 
amphibian truck, harbor craft, and truck 
units, and a large supply of floating and 
materials handling equipment." 

Meanwhile, Cherbourg would be 
opened on D plus 1 1 , and was to be oper- 
ated by the 4th Port, with attached troops 
and equipment. Rehabilitation activities 
of the Engineers were to increase the port's 
discharge capacity to 5,000 long tons per 
day by D plus 20, and 8,000 long tons per 
day by D plus 90. The 4th Port was also 
scheduled to operate Barfleur and Gran- 
ville, ports capable of handling coasters 
only, which would be opened on D plus 
20 and 25, respectively. At each of these 
installations, port troops would be phased 



" See Chart, Beach and Port Capacity (D plus 20- 
D plus 90), as assessed by SHAEF Memo, 7 Jun 44, 
USFET OCT 323.3 Cotentin Ports Survey, KCRC 
AGO. 

"SHAEF, G-4 FECZ, and ADSEC estimates of 
port capacities and opening dates of ports varied, but 
discrepancies were relatively minor. For the sake of 
convenience FECZ estimates have been used here. 

" COMZONE Trans plan cited n. 3, pp. 1-2. The 
major port, the 1 1th, attached to the Provisional Engi- 
neer Special Brigade Group, was to operate the arti- 
ficial port and the minor ports. See Neptune Opns 
Plan, Annex 14, cited n. 8, p. 6. 



THE INVASION OF NORMANDY 



239 



in to keep pace with the discharge capac- 
ity of rehabihtated facilities.^" 

In the Brittany area, St. Malo and the 
nearby beaches were scheduled to begin 
operation under the 12th Port on D plus 
25. With anticipated capacity of 2,000 
tons per day by D plus 40 and 3,000 tons 
daily by D plus 90, this area was to sustain 
the U.S. Third Army and possibly to 
handle the debarkation of Third Army 
troops. The other Brittany ports were ex- 
pected to come into the logistic picture be- 
tween D plus 53 and 57, with the opening 
of Brest and the Rade de Brest, Lorient, 
and Quiberon Bay.' ' The planners esti- 
mated that these ports would provide a 
daily discharge capacity of 8,040 long tons 
by D plus 60, and 14,550 long tons by D 
plus 90. 

Port planning proved overoptimistic. 
The capture of Cherbourg was delayed, 
and its rehabilitation was slower than ex- 
pected. Moreover, the Brittany ports were 
not opened as planned because of the late 
date of the capture, the extent of destruc- 
tion, and the rapid eastward advance of 
the armies. In the end, only a few minor 
ports were operated in the Brittany area. 
The failure of plans for the Brittany ports 
to materialize made a heavier and more 
extended dependence on the beaches 
necessary, forced a sharp upward revision 
of Cherbourg's capacity, and posed a port 
development problem that was not solved 
until the opening of Antwerp in late 
November 1944. 

Motor Transport 

When D Day arrived, the least satisfac- 
tory aspect from the standpoint of the the- 
ater chief of transportation was the prep- 
aration for U.S. motor transportation 
operations on the Continent. Despite early 



requests, he had been unable to obtain 
troops and equipment in quantities suffi- 
cient to meet what he considered essential 
requirements. 

Immediately upon the reassignment of 
motor transport operations to the Trans- 
portation Corps in July 1943, General 
Ross had ordered his Motor Transport 
Division to begin planning for continental 
operations. Lacking an over-all oper- 
ational plan, Ross's planners relied on the 
theater troop basis to work out motor 
transport requirements for projected port 
clearance, depot and other static oper- 
ations, and line of communications haul- 
ing. They assumed the use of standard 
truck companies, each operating forty so- 
called 2'/2-ton vehicles, which actually 
moved a 5-ton pay load. Estimating the 
maximum average forward range of a 
single driver at fifty miles per day, each 
truck company would have a capacity of 
10,000 forward ton-miles per day. On this 
basis, they calculated that 240 truck com- 
panies would be necessary. The G-4 staff 
believed the number to be excessive, and 
the theater approved only 160 truck com- 
panies. Although the theater troop basis 
was later increased, and the scope of U.S. 
tactical operations expanded, no changes 
were made before D Day in the number 
of projected units.' ' An officer who served 



'■-' Unless otherwise cited, the discussion of port 
planning is based on the FECZ (COMZONE Trans 
Plan cited n. 3) and the ADSEC (Neptune Opns 
Plan, Annex 14, cited n. 8) transportation plans. 

'^ Quiberon Bay, an undeveloped area, was to be 
captured about D plus 40 and undergo extensive de- 
velopment. On this project, called Chastity, see 
Ruppenthal, op. at., pp. 187-89, 294-96. 

'^ History of Motor Transport in the European 
Theater of Operations (hereafter cited as Hist of MT 
in ETO), p. 16; Consolidated Rpt on TC Activities in 
ETO. Annex 7. A Brief Outline History of the Motor 
Transport Service (hereafter cited as Outline Hist of 
MTS), p. 2. All in OCT HR ETO. 



240 



THE TRANSPORTATION CORPS 



with the SHAEF Movements and Trans- 
portation Division has stated that the the- 
ater Transportation Corps planners were 
unable to back up their claims because 
they lacked basic operational and logis- 
tical data such as detailed information re- 
garding the planned deployment of U.S. 
forces on the Continent, and that the G-4 
staff disregarded their recommendations 
without sufficiently reanalyzing the 
problem. ^^ 

Equally frustrating were the Transpor- 
tation Corps' efforts to secure heavy-duty 
equipment. A study of the experience in 
North Africa had clearly revealed the 
need for trucks capable of handling over- 
sized and bulky supplies and equipment 
and had demonstrated that the larger ve- 
hicles were much more economical in 
over-the-road hauling than the 2 '/2-ton 
truck. Profiting from this lesson, Ross di- 
rected his Motor Transport Division to in- 
clude in its plans provision for such heavy- 
duty and special equipment as would be 
required for a balanced truck fleet. In 
August 1943 requisitions were sent to 
Washington for special vehicles with 
which to re-equip over two thirds of the 
projected 160 truck companies. Fifty-nine 
companies were to be provided with 28- 
foot, 10-ton semitrailers; 36 companies 
with 2y2-ton 6x6 cab-over-engine trucks, 
which because of their longer body and 
greater cubic capacity could carry heavier 
and more bulky freight than the standard 
2'/2-ton truck; 27 companies with 750-gal- 
lon tank trucks; 9 companies with 2,000- 
gallon semitrailer tankers; and 2 com- 
panies with 45-ton tank transport trailers 
and 5-ton refrigerator vans. "' 

The requisitions fared badly in Wash- 
ington. Considerable time was consumed 
in processing papers, and final War De- 
partment approval of the projects was not 



given until December 1943. Several more 
months transpired before production was 
initiated so that few of the vehicles had ar- 
rived in the United Kingdom by 31 May 
1944.'' Pending the receipt of the equip- 
ment, the Transportation Corps, shortly 
before D Day, agreed to accept several 
alternative types then available for imme- 
diate shipment to the theater. Among the 
substitutions were lV2-ton truck-tractors 
with 3-6-ton semitrailers, and 4-5-ton 
truck-tractors with 16-foot semitrailers 
that had been designed originally for use 
in the China-Burma-India theater. Also, 
some increased carrying capacity became 
available in May 1944 when the War De- 
partment authorized loading up to 100 
percent in excess of the rated capacity for 
2V2-ton 6x6 trucks operating under favor- 
able conditions on smooth hard-surface 
roads. The heavy-vehicle project was not 
to be completed until late in November 
1944. In the interim, the Transportation 
Corps was compelled to rely heavily on 
2'/2-ton trucks, supplemented by such 
other vehicles as could be provided. ''^ 

Believing that there would be insuffi- 
cient carrying capacity even if the heavy 
equipment should be made available, the 
Transportation Corps planners sought to 



'■' Ltr, Col Visscring to Gen Ward, Chief Mil Hist, 
14 Aug 52, OCMH Files. 

"' Outline Hist of MTS, pp. 2-3. 

'' On the requisitioning of heavy vehicles, sed the 
following: Memo, Dir of Sup ASF for TAG, 3 1 Dec 
43, sub: Ord Project GS 20 and GS 21 for ETO; 1st 
Ind, Dir of Plans and Opns ASF to Dir of Sup ASF, 
18 Dec 43; Memo, Lutes for CG ASF, 25 Mar 44, sub: 
ETO Projects GS 20 and GS 21. All in AG '400 (31 
Jul 43) (7) Sec 6A Opnl Projects for 1943 and 1944 for 
ETO. Also see Study, OCT Hwy Div, Motor Vehicle 
Recjuirements for the European Theater of Opera- 
tions, 8 Apr 44, OCT HB Hwy Div; and Hist of MT 
in ETO, pp. 13-14. 

"< Outline Hist of MTS, pp. 2-5; WD AR-212, 20 
May 44; Annual Rf)t, Strategic Studies Br Hwy Div 
OCT, 1 7 June 44, pp. 22-23, OCT HB Hwy Div. 



THE INVASION OF NORMANDY 



241 



apply another lesson learned during the 
North African campaign by providing 
two drivers for each vehicle in order to 
make possible twenty-four-hour vehicle 
operation. Their request for overstrength 
truck units was at first turned down by 
the theater G-3, on the grounds that such 
operations would not be required over an 
extended period of time and that the nor- 
mal truck company could work continu- 
ously over short periods of time if 
necessary. 

After repeated efforts by the Transpor- 
tation Corps to have the matter reconsid- 
ered, General Lee became interested in 
the problem in early 1944 and intervened. 
Requests for men to provide forty extra 
drivers per company were then submitted 
to the War Department. The War Depart- 
ment notified the theater that its troop 
strength could not be increased, and sug- 
gested that the extra personnel be secured 
within the theater. In April 1944 General 
Lee directed the base sections to furnish 
quotas of drivers by a deadline date. Al- 
though he specifically stated that he 
would tolerate no unloading of undesir- 
ables, many of the men received proved to 
be of poor quality. This factor, together 
with the fact that insufficient time re- 
mained for proper training, was later to 
have an adverse effect upon vehicle main- 
tenance and operation. Additional drivers 
were secured by distributing personnel 
from fourteen truck companies among 
other units, and assigning their equipment 
to two Engineer general service regiments 
that were converted into truck com-, 
panics.^-' 

Meanwhile, FECZ and ADSEC organ- 
ization and planning had gone forward. 
Most of the Motor Transport Division staff 
members at Transportation Corps head- 
quarters had been reassigned to the FECZ 



Transportation Section, and within 
ADSEC a Motor Transport Brigade had 
been organized."" From D Day to D plus 
25, the ADSEC Transportation Section, 
through its Motor Transport Brigade, 
would operate the motor transport re- 
quired to clear ports and to supplement 
the First Army's organic transportation. 
Thereafter, until D plus 41, it would be 
responsible for furnishing general-purpose 
transport for hauling supplies forward 
from the beaches, ports, and depots in 
support of the armies, the Ninth Air 
Force, and Communications Zone instal- 
lations. On D plus 41 the FECZ Trans- 
portation Section would assume control 
of motor transport operation in the com- 
munication zone and allocate to ADSEC 
and the two other base sections personnel 
and units to perform truck hauling and 
traffic control. There were to be 130 truck 
companies on the Continent by D plus 41. 
Transportation Corps theater planners 
were unhappy about this number, and as 
D Day approached they were endeavor- 
ing to arrange for the earlier employment 
of some of the thirty truck units scheduled 
to arrive between D plus 41 and D plus 
90. ^'1 

The effort to phase in units at an earlier 
date than originally planned, as well as 
the last-minute attempts to increase car- 
rying capacity through the assignment of 
extra drivers and the acceptance of mis- 
cellaneous types of heavy vehicles imme- 
diately available, reflected a growing 
anxiety regarding the adequacy of prep- 
arations for motor transport operations. 



'■' Outline Hist of MTS, pp. 5-6; Supplement to 
Conf Notes of Monday 10 Apr 44, USFET OCT 322 
Overstrength of QM Truck Cos, KCRC AGO. 

-" Hist of MT in ETO, pp. 23-24; Outline Hist of 
MTS, pp. 7-8. 

-' See COMZONE Trans Plan cited n. 3, and 
Neptune Opns Plan, Annex 14, cited n. 8. 



242 



THE TRANSPORTATION CORPS 



In the spring of 1944 a study by the 
SHAEF G-4 Movement and Transporta- 
tion Branch, based on the latest informa- 
tion regarding projected troop deployment 
and phase lines, indicated that there 
would not be enough truck units ade- 
quately to support the U.S. advance, par- 
ticularly in the period after D plus 41. 
After a review by SHAEF logistical plan- 
ners in April had confirmed these find- 
ings, the matter was brought to General 
Eisenhower's attention. Eisenhower then 
called in General Lee, and a reanalysis 
was undertaken by the Communications 
Zone staff'.-- As D Day approached it was 
evident to the Communications Zone G-4 
that there would be a shortage of truck 
companies if maximum traffic developed, 
but he believed that the shortage might be 
relieved through temporary SOS utiliza- 
tion of truck units of the second and third 
armies to land on the Continent. More- 
over, he anticipated that the transporta- 
tion system as a whole would be adequate, 
if the heavy vehicles on order materialized 
in time and rail operations were begun by 
D plus 60.'^ 

In actual operations, the shortage of 
heavy-duty vehicles and truck companies 
did not immediately become apparent. 
Indeed, by late July 1944, only 94 of the 
planned 130 truck units were in operation 
under ADSEC, and up to that time they 
were adequate because tactical progress 
had been unexpectedly slow and road 
hauls relatively short.-' With the rapid 
advance of the armies after the break- 
through at St. L6, the deficiencies soon 
became painfully evident. 

Rail Transportation 

The assumption that motor transport 
would bear the brunt of overland traffic 



during the first ninety days was premised 
on the expectation that extensive destruc- 
tion of railway equipment, track, and 
structures would severely limit the imme- 
diate use of rail transportation. The thea- 
ter planners therefore placed the main 
emphasis on repair and rehabilitation of 
captured railway track and equipment, 
and assumed that rail operations would 
have only limited importance even in the 
latter phases of Overlord.-' 

Planning for continental railway oper- 
ations had a long history. The Transporta- 
tion Corps Military Railway Division had 
begun working on equipment require- 
ments in 1942, and plans for the develop- 
ment of ajoint stockpile were made by an 
American-British committee on which the 
Transportation Corps and Corps of Engi- 
neers were represented along with their 
British opposites. During the Bolero 
period a large quantity of motive power, 
rolling stock, and other rail equipment 
was assembled in the United Kingdom for 
eventual transfer to the Continent. Ajoint 
British-American Cross-Channel Ferrying 
Committee, operating under SHAEF, was 
responsible for programming the sailings 
to move the pool of equipment to the 
Continent. 

Detailed Transportation Corps opera- 
tional planning got underway in early 
1944 when Colonel Bingham was ap- 
pointed head of the Military Railways 
Division, FECZ Transportation Section. 



-"-' Visscring Itr citi-d n. 15; Ruppcnthal, op. a/., p. 
Md. 

-■ Hist of G-4 COMZONE ETO, Sec. VII, Pt. I, 
Tab 2b, pp. 7-8. 

=" Hist, Trans Sec ADSEC COMZONE ETOUSA, 
activation to 30 Sep 44, pp. 9-10, OCT HB ETO; 
Rup|)( iithal. dp. (it., pp. 557-58. 

^^ COMZONE Plan, FECZ E lOUSA, cited n. 6. 
Sec. XI. Trans, pp. .33, 35; Hist of G-4 COMZONE 
ETO. Sec. V, Pt. I, Tab 2b, p. 7. 



THE INVASION OF NORMANDY 



243 



Bingham was succeeded in April by Gen- 
eral Burpee, who had given distinguished 
service in North Africa and Italy. Burpee 
commanded the 2d Military Railway 
Service, which had arrived in the United 
Kingdom at the end of March, and was 
scheduled to direct rail operations on the 
Continent. While railway troops under- 
went training and made preparations for 
their move to the Continent, Burpee and 
his staff continued work on the FECZ 
plan and maintained close co-ordination 
with the ADSEC transportation and engi- 
neering staffs.-'' 

As visualized on D Day, the main func- 
tions of military railway troops up to D 
plus 41 would be to reconnoiter and sur- 
vey lines to be operated; provide construc- 
tion-work trains and crews to assist the 
Engineers in rehabilitating the railways; 
set up and prepare for operation the 
equipment ferried over or captured; co- 
operate with the Engineer and Signal 
Corps in completing required construc- 
tion; and start rail operations as soon as 
conditions would permit. Ferrying oper- 
ations for rail equipment would begin on 
D plus 25. Rolling stock and locomotives, 
at first mainly work equipment, would be 
landed at Cherbourg, the only port capa- 
ble of handling them and the starting 
point for rail operations. It was assumed 
that no repairable locomotives would be 
captured within the first 30 days, and that 
until D plus 41 captured rolling stock 
capable of being rendered serviceable 
would not be sufficient to offset losses at 
sea during the ferrying operation. 

Personnel requirements for this period 
were modest. A small party from MRS 
headquarters would land on Utah Beach, 
join the 382d Engineer General Service 
Regiment, and proceed to the rail line. 
Upon the capture of Cherbourg, the party 



was to make a reconnaissance of rail facil- 
ities at that port and follow up with a sur- 
vey of the line as far south as Valognes. 
Beginning on D plus 18 the remainder of 
the 2d MRS headquarters would be 
phased in to complete detailed surveys 
and initiate operations, and assigned op- 
erating units would be brought in. By D 
plus 41, the 2d MRS was to have avail- 
able on the Continent one railway grand 
division, two railway operating battalions, 
and two railway shop battalions. Oper- 
ations would have been pushed as far 
south as Lison, and preparations would 
have been started to extend them farther 
southward.-' 

In the latter half of the Overlord 
period, rail operations were to be ex- 
panded as lines were rehabilitated, addi- 
tional troops and equipment were made 
available, and the tactical forces ad- 
vanced. By D plus 90, the MRS would be 
operating a rail net bounded by Cher- 
bourg on the north, Auray to the south- 
west, and Le Mans to the southeast. The 
net would include the double-track line 
running south from Cherbourg to Lison, 
where it was connected by a single-track 
line with Le Mans. Other lines expected 
to be in operation extended from Lison 
southwestward via Granville and Dol-de- 
Bretagne to Rennes, from Rennes west- 
ward to Auray in the Quiberon Bay area, 
and from Rennes eastward to Le Mans. 
For the operation and maintenance of 
these lines, the 2d MRS was to be pro- 
vided with two railway grand divisions, 
five railway operating battalions, two rail- 
way shop battalions, and considerable rail 



-'' Consolidated Rpt on TC Activities in ETO, 
Annex 8, Militar\- Railway Service, pp. 13-16; Ltr, 
Ross to Col J. A. Appleton, Chief Rail Div OCT WD, 
25 Oct 43, USFET OCT 320.2 Strength. KCRC 
AGO. Also see above, p. 126. 

-' Neptune Opns Plan, Annex 14, cited n. 8. 



244 



THE TRANSPORTATION CORPS 



equipment. Equipment to be ferried to 
the Continent by D plus 90 included 354 
locomotives, 4,136 20-ton covered cars, 
1,862 20-ton open freight cars, 519 50-ton 
flatcars, 395 cabooses, 152 tank cars, 30 
refrigerator cars, 54 40-ton gondolas, and 
other rolling stock including 6 ambulance 
trains.'** 

Rail transportation was expected to be 
the backbone of the transportation system 
in the post-OvERLORD period. Transporta- 
tion Corps railway planners believed that 
by D plus 120 there would be in operation 
an extensive railway system, consisting 
mainly of double-track lines, which would 
be based on Cherbourg and the Brittany 
ports of Quiberon Bay and Lorient and 
would extend eastward as far as Dreux 
and Chartres. The planning staff also 
drew up plans for subsequent utilization 
of rail lines up to and beyond the German 
border.-^ 

Provision was also made for the even- 
tual transfer of rail operations to the 
French. As set forth by a SHAEF directive 
in July 1944, the transfer in each liberated 
area was to take place in three stages: 
Stage (later called Phase) I called for ex- 
clusive military operation of the railways; 
Stage II was characterized by assistance 
from the French; and Stage III con- 
templated French assumption of respon- 
sibility for railway maintenance and 
operation.^" 

As in the case of the ports and motor 
transport, the actual development of rail- 
way operations did not proceed according 
to plan. The delay in capturing Cher- 
bourg set back the phasing in of railway 
troops and equipment. Although destruc- 
tion of rail facilities proved somewhat less 
serious than anticipated, operations were 
at first limited by the shallow lodgment 
area. At the end ofjuly 1944, U.S. rail 



activity was confined to the north-south 
lines between Cherbourg and Lison. Be- 
ginning in August the MRS-operated 
lines had expanded, and American rail 
personnel were greatly augmented. By D 
plus 90 (4 September) rail operations had 
been pushed southward to Rennes and 
eastward beyond Le Mans.'* The progres- 
sive extension of rail lines, however, did 
not keep pace with the lightning advance 
of the armies, necessitating prolonged de- 
pendence on motor transport. Not until 
the last quarter of 1944 did the railways 
catch up and surpass truck transportation 
in the volume of traffic handled.^" 

Movement Control and Other 
Transportation Activities 

Control of personnel and supply move- 
ments in the communications zone was an 
important aspect of transportation plan- 
ning, for without such regulation traffic 
could become quickly and seriously 
snarled. Responsibility for this function 
was to pass successively from the First 
Army to ADSEC to FECZ. Personnel to 
carry out the responsibility during the 
ADSEC and FECZ phases were to be pro- 
vided by the Transportation Corps. 

The U.S. First Army was initially to 
control all traffic. During this period de- 
tachments from the 3d Group Regulating 

-" COMZONE Trans Plan cited n. 3, and atchd 
Incls 1 and 3. 

-" Consolidated Rpt on TC Activities in ETO, 
Annex 8, MRS, Map, Pre-Invasion Planned Develop- 
ment of Railways on the Continent; Gen Bd Rpt, 
USFET, Study 123, p. 11, OCT HB ETO. 

■" SHAEF Adm Memo 24, 18 Jul 44, sub: Coopera- 
tion of French Mil and Civ Trans Authorities, OCT 
HB ETO France Rys. 

■' Since Quiberon Bay and Lorient were not placed 
in operation, the line i^lanned to connect them with 
Rennes was not dcvelo|)ed. 

'- For details on continental rail operations, see 
hclow. |)|). 340-5)4. 



THE INVASION OF NORMANDY 



245 



Station would arrive, establish traffic con- 
trol in the Cherbourg port area, and move 
out to strategic points along the road net- 
work. On D plus 25 the ADSEC Trans- 
portation Section would assume respon- 
sibility for controlling all traffic behind 
the First Army's rear boundary. Its Move- 
ment Control Branch, through co-ordina- 
tion with the services, would issue cargo- 
disposal instructions and allocate tonnages 
for land movement. Additional traffic 
regulation groups would be brought in 
and would provide troops for traffic regu- 
lation (RTO) installations. These stations, 
operating under the ADSEC Transporta- 
tion Section, would be located at strategic 
roadheads, railheads, and other vital 
points along the lines of communication. 
Beginning on D plus 41, movement 
control would become a responsibility of 
FECZ and would be exercised through 
the medium of base and advance section 
agencies. Movements by rail or road were 
to be arranged by base section transpor- 
tation officers, with the FECZ Trans- 
portation Section providing over-all co- 
ordination. As an exception to this 
decentralized traffic control scheme, the 
planners anticipated that certain through 
motor routes would be regulated by 
FECZ headquarters. Control of move- 
ments along the lines of communication 
was to be handled by regulating stations, 
which by D plus 90 would be manned by 
men from six traffic regulating groups. As 
visualized in the FECZ plan, these sta- 
tions were to be responsible for the orderly 
movement of supplies and personnel to 
proper railheads and roadheads, and for 
the evacuation of casualties, prisoners, 
and salvage. They were to organize clas- 
sification and dispatch areas and other 
traffic control points in order to keep 
traffic moving and prevent congestion at 



rail and truck terminals and along the 
lines of communication.^^ 

Regulating stations were also to be set 
up immediately behind the Army areas to 
control movements between the commu- 
nications zone and the combat zone. Al- 
though Field Service Regulations pro- 
vided that such stations would be directly 
under the theater commander, it was 
decided to assign them to ADSEC, which 
was the Communications Zone agency 
adjacent to the combat area. The regulat- 
ing officer was to handle movement 
requests from tactical forces, set priorities, 
and regulate the flow of men and mate- 
rials into and out of the Army areas. As 
will be seen, two such stations were actu- 
ally set up, one operating behind the U.S. 
First Army and the other behind the U.S. 
Third Army." 

Before closing the discussion of trans- 
portation planning it should be noted that 
two pipeline systems were to be operated 
on the Continent — one based on Cher- 
bourg and the other on Port-en-Bessin. ' ' 
Since the Engineers were responsible for 
construction, operation, and maintenance 
of the lines, Transportation Corps plan- 
ning did not deal with them other than to 
examine their impact on other transpor- 
tation operations. 

Scant attention was given to the devel- 
opment of inland waterways. No impor- 
tant use of this means of transportation 
was contemplated during the Overlord 
period. 

'■^ On planned movement control activities in the 
Communications Zone, see the following: Opns Plan 
Neptune, Annex 14, cited n. 8; COMZONE Plan, 
FECZ ETOUSA. cited n. 6, Sec. XI, pp. 33-38; and 
COMZONE Trans Plan cited n. 3, pp. 4 and 7. 

■' Ruppenthal, op. cit., pp. 497-98. 

'^ On plans for pipelines see the following: Hist of 
G-4 COMZONE ETO, Sec. V, Ch. 2; COMZONE 
Plan, FECZ ETOUSA, cited n. 6, Annex 8; Ruppen- 
thal, op. at., pp. 319-26. 



246 



THE TRANSPORTATION CORPS 



Mounting the Invasion 

In order to effect the planned invasion 
of northwestern France by U.S. forces, it 
was necessary to move troops, equipment, 
and suppHes from stations and depots in 
the United Kingdom to proper far shore 
destinations and to dehver them in the 
amounts and sequence and at the times 
desired by tactical commanders.''" This 
task had to be performed without inter- 
fering with the simultaneous movement of 
British forces. It was a complicated under- 
taking requiring close collaboration 
among Allied, British, and American 
agencies. Machinery had to be set up to 
control the flow of men and materials and 
to allocate vessels and landing craft. Areas 
for the assembly, processing, and embar- 
kation of troops and accompanying mate- 
riel had to be apportioned for the move- 
ment of cargo necessary to support the 
invasion, and uniform procedures had to 
be worked out governing the flow of both 
U.S. and British forces. 

The mounting operation involved the 
advance loading of the assault forces and 
a portion of those designated for the subse- 
quent build-up. This was to be followed 
by a gigantic prescheduled build-up, de- 
signed to meet the requirements of the 
tactical forces, that had to be kept within 
the limits of the shipping available, the 
outloading capacity of the United King- 
dom ports, the receiving capacity of 
beaches and ports on the far shore, and 
the uncertainties that might arise as the 
result of bad weather, enemy sea action, 
and changes in the tactical situation. In 
view of the short sea voyage, the build-up 
was to be effected by a shuttle service be- 
tween the southern coast of England and 
northern France. Support shipping direct 
from the United States would play a 



minor role in the early stages of the build- 
up, but would become increasingly im- 
portant thereafter and contribute the bulk 
of the supply requirements on the Conti- 
nent in the latter phases of the Overlord 
operation. 

The theater SOS commander had the 
responsibility for mounting and support- 
ing the U.S. forces engaged in Overlord. 
Within SOS, the chief of transportation, 
in co-ordination with the British, exer- 
cised executive control of movements of 
U.S. troops, vehicles, and supplies, includ- 
ing outloadings from the U.K. ports. 
Actual direction of U.S. mounting activi- 
ties, including movement control, port, 
and other transportation activities, was 
delegated to the base section commanders. 
Over-all control of the mounting ma- 
chinery, both American and British, was 
made the function of the Allied Build-up 
Control Organization (BUCO). 

Participation in Embarkation Planning 

Detailed Transportation Corps planning 
for the mounting of Overlord began in 
early September 1943 when General Ross 
established an Operational Branch in his 
Movements Division. '' One of the branch's 
first tasks was to participate in the develop- 
ment of joint American-British movement 
control and embarkation procedures. The 
British Movements Directorate had been 
working on plans for the movement and 
control of an amphibious force to be em- 
barked from the southern coast of Eng- 



^'' I'or a more cictailcd treatment of plans and prep- 
arations for the mounting of Ovf:ri,ord, see Ruppen- 
thal,(//^ III.. C:ii. IX. 

'Historical Criti(|ue of the United Kingdom 
()\ i.Ki.oRU Movements, 1 Nov 45 (hereafter cited as 
Hist Critique), pp. 21-30; Gen Bd Rpt, LISFET. Study 
129, pp. 2-3; Consolidated Rpt of TC Activities in 
V:\\y. p. 27. .Ml in OCT IIH ETO. 



THE INVASION OF NORMANDY 



247 



land, and in September the British held 
the exercise Harlequin to test their effec- 
tiveness. In this exercise troops were moved 
rapidly through pre-established movement 
control areas, passing successively through 
a concentration area, an assembly area, 
and a transit area before embarking. Upon 
the completion of Harlequin, the Opera- 
tional Branch joined with representatives 
of the 21 Army Group and the British 
Movement Control and, on the basis of 
experience gained in the exercise, began 
to formulate uniform procedures govern- 
ing the movement and embarkation of 
both U.S. and British forces. 

In the months that followed, general 
agreement was reached on movements 
and embarkation procedures. The south- 
ern part of England, roughly south of a 
line between London and Bristol, was 
accepted as the mounting area, with U.S. 
foixes concentrating in the southwest and 
British forces in the southeast. In view of 
the large number of troops involved and 
the limited camp facilities available in 
southern England, it was recognized that 
it would be impossible to move all of the 
build-up forces into the mounting area 
before D Day. Therefore, it was decided 
to have a prescheduled movement of 
troops into concentration areas, and thence 
through marshaling areas to embarkation 
points, either directly or through embar- 
kation areas. 

The concentration areas were to be 
located fifty to sixty miles from the point 
of embarkation. While in a concentration 
area units were to be self-sufficient, were 
to continue their training, and were to 
take preliminary steps in preparing equip- 
ment and securing supplies for the sea 
voyage. Next, the units were to be sent 
southward by road or rail into a marshal- 
ing area in the order indicated by priority 



tables prepared by appropriate army 
headquarters. There, they were no longer 
self-sufficient and had to be billeted and 
fed by a static organization. In the mar- 
shaling area the units were placed under a 
security seal, were briefed on the forth- 
coming invasion, received final issues of 
supplies and equipment, and their vehicles 
final waterproofing. Movement from the 
marshaling area to the point of embar- 
kation was to be by craft or shiploads as 
required for the assault and the subsequent 
build-up. 

The make-up of an embarkation area 
was a compromise between British and 
American points of view. In the American 
zone of southwest England, the marshal- 
ing areas lay comparatively near the coast. 
In the southeast, the British marshaling 
areas were located further inland to afford 
maximum concealment and protection. 
Therefore, the British desired an interme- 
diate transit area adjacent to the embar- 
kation point so as to control movement. To 
reach a common method of procedure the 
embarkation areas were set up to include 
an embarkation regulating point, which 
for the British could accommodate both 
troops and vehicles but for the Americans 
served simply as a traffic control point. 

In practice, the Americans found no 
great need for the embarkation areas, 
since the proximity of marshaling areas to 
embarkation points could have made pos- 
sible control of embarkation of troops and 
vehicles merely by parking the units along 
the roads leading to embarkation points, 
and then bringing craft or shiploads to the 
embarkation point with motorcycle escort. 
Each marshaling area was to be employed 
for that purpose up to 75 percent of its 
capacity. The remaining 25 percent was 
to be kept in reserve to accommodate 
troops and vehicles that might be unable 



248 



THE TRANSPORTATION CORPS 



to move out because of enemy action, ad- 
verse weather, or other circumstances. 
Troops generally were to stay longest in 
the concentration area, which in many 
cases was their home station, rarely more 
than forty-eight hours in the marshaling 
area, and usually only a few hours in the 
embarkation area. Apart from movement 
priorities, the availability of motor, rail, 
and, above all, water transport was the 
key factor in the embarkation cycle. 

The procedures worked out by the 
British Movements Director and the U.S. 
theater chief of transportation were pub- 
lished by the theater on 10 January 1944 
in a manual entitled "Preparation for 
Overseas Movement — Short Sea Voyage" 
(ETO-POM-SSV). The publication di- 
vided the mounting operation into four 
phases — assault, follow-up, build-up, and 
normal reinforcement. In all four phases 
troops would flow through concentration, 
marshaling, and embarkation areas in the 
sequence dictated by priority tables set up 
by the tactical command involved. Among 
other things, procedures were laid down 
for stripping units of overhead personnel 
and excess equipment, for loading unit 
vehicles with organization equipment, and 
for preparing necessary embarkation doc- 
umentation. On 31 March detailed tech- 
nical instructions covering procedures to 
be followed by U.S. and British movement 
control personnel in implementing ETO- 
POM-SSV were issued. 

Amphibious Exercises 

The movement control and embarka- 
tion procedures, as well as loading and 
unloading techniques and other aspects of 
amphibious operations, were tested in sev- 
eral U.S. exercises, in which transportation 
troops participated. Made as realistic as 



possible, these training exercises helped 
disclose matters calling for correction. 

Assigned to Headquarters, V Corps, the 
first American large-scale exercise, Duck I, 
was completed early in January 1944. 
Duck I involved the movement of Ameri- 
can troops and equipment, their embar- 
kation in landing craft, and a subsequent 
assault with naval and air support on the 
beach at Slapton Sands near Dartmouth, 
Devon, where tide, beach, and terrain 
conditions roughly resembled those on the 
Normandy coast. In accordance with 
planned movement tables, the troops and 
equipment were moved from the marshal- 
ing areas to the embarkation points. De- 
spite several deficiencies, notably in docu- 
mentation and timing, the exercise dem- 
onstrated that the normal transportation 
procedure suflficed. 

Other assault exercises were performed 
before D Day. Among other things, they 
simulated the conditions likely to be found 
in unloading supplies over an enemy-held 
beach and provided training for Transpor- 
tation Corps port troops in discharging 
cargo from coasters into landing craft and 
amphibian vehicles. They also furnished 
experience in handling skidloaded, or pal- 
letized, cargo. ''' Continuous study and 
analysis brought further improvements in 
procedure. The prevailing point of view 
was that, if diflRculties were to develop, it 
was better by far that they be detected at 
this time rather than after the assault had 
been launched. The major series closed 



'■'* Used earlier in the invasion of Sicily, such cargo 
consisted of supplies lashed to small wooden platforms 
that could !)(■ readily handled by mechanical equip- 
ment or, if necessary, could be pulled over the beach 
like sleds. Skidloads could be handled ashore with 
comjDarative ease and dispatch, but they were often 
wasteful of shipjjing s|)ace. See OCT HB Monograph 
19, |jp. 14:5-46; Hist Rpt, TC ETO, II, 102-05, OCT 

HB i:ro. 



THE INVASION OF NORMANDY 



249 



with two full-dress rehearsals for the inva- 
sion. Tiger and Fabius. The first took on 
a grim touch when German surface craft 
attacked unexpectedly, causing a heavy 
loss of life among the Americans.^'' 

Movement Control Organization 
and Procedures 

While the amphibious exercises were 
being held, planning and organization for 
the actual mounting operation had gone 
forward. Skeleton staff tables indicating 
the planned sequence in which ground, 
air, and service units would embark from 
the United Kingdom had been drawn up 
by the First U.S. Army for the period to 
D plus 15, and by the 1st U.S. Army Group 
for the period thereafter. These tables were 
referred to the Concentration Plan Com- 
mittee established by the Communications 
Zone G-4 Planning Branch, on which the 
theater chief of transportation and the 
Southern Base Section commander were 
represented. On the basis of these tables, 
the committee determined the location of 
each unit as of D minus 35, the sector 
through which the unit would move, the 
concentration area camp to which it 
would be assigned, and the projected date 
of its arrival at that camp.^" 

The concentration plan assumed a pre- 
scheduled movement of troops and vehi- 
cles from their home stations to concentra- 
tion area camps, and then through mar- 
shaling areas to points of embarkation, 
but it was evident from the first that tacti- 
cal developments and other considerations 
would in all probability cause the actual 
flow of units to differ from that set up in 
advance. In order to provide centralized 
and flexible control of the build-up on the 
Continent on a day-to-day basis, the 
Build-up Control Organization (BUCO) 



was established in the spring of 1 944 under 
the joint direction of the Allied Army, 
Navy, and Air commanders in chief This 
Allied agency was composed of a U.S. 
zone staff and a British zone staff, under 
the chairmanship of a representative of 21 
Army Group. The U.S. zone staff was 
made up of representatives of the Ameri- 
can tactical commands and FECZ. 
BUCO's principal functions were to con- 
trol the build-up of personnel and vehicles 
and to set priorities for their movement as 
desired by the tactical commands and in 
line with available shipping and craft. ^' 

Under the control of BUCO were two 
subordinate agencies. Movement Control 
(MOVCO) and Turnaround Control 
(TURCO). MOVCO had general con- 
trol over the movement of troop units from 
their home stations to embarkation points, 
issuing instructions for movement to trans- 
portation agencies concerned. TURCO, a 
traffic control agency staffed by American 
and British naval personnel, was formed 
to assist naval commanders in the control 
of the cross-Channel movement of ships 
and craft, with a view to minimizing the 
turnaround time. 

Although BUCO itself remained in the 
United Kingdom, shortly after D Day an 
organization called Little BUCO was set 
up on the far shore and in effect functioned 
as BUCO's advance echelon. This agency 
was attached to the First Army and was 
staffed by Army, Army Air Forces, and 
Communications Zone representatives. It 

^^ Other important amphibious exercises included 
Fox, Beaver, Cargo, and Cellophane. See Hist 
Critique, pp. 12-18; Hist Rpt, TC ETO, II, 112-37a; 
Harrison, Cross-Channel Attack, pp. 269-70; Ruppen- 
tha\. op. at., pp. 348-54. 

^° Hist Critique, p. 31. 

" On BUCO, MOVCO, TURCO, and Little 
BUCO, sec Gen Bd Rpts, USFET, Study 22, pp. 5- 
1 1 , Study 1 22, pp. 6- 1 2, and Study 1 29, pp. 2, 22-23, 
OCT HB ETO. 



250 



THE TRANSPORTATION CORPS 



screened and consolidated requests for 
changes in priorities of troop units and 
passed them on to BUCO for implementa- 
tion. 

The procedures developed by BUCO 
were designed to provide movement con- 
trol machinery that could be adapted to 
the needs of the tactical commanders and 
the transportation available. At daily 
meetings BUCO made alterations in pri- 
orities desired by the tactical commanders 
and modified the planned allocation of 
shipping and craft to meet current require- 
ments. Any alterations of lift as between 
the Americans and British were arranged 
by BUCO with 21 Army Group, which 
was responsible for the allocation of ship- 
ping. BUCO broke down the modified 
priority lists into lists for the several em- 
barkation sectors, showing the sequence in 
which units would embark in each. The 
lists were set up three weeks ahead of 
movement, and on the basis of this infor- 
mation MOVCO issued a force loading 
forecast for each embarkation sector, cov- 
ering anticipated movements during the 
next ten days. These data were subject to 
change, but provided the base sections and 
sectors with a basis for planning and prep- 
arations. 

More important were the force move- 
ment tables prepared by MOVCO. Dis- 
tributed daily to base section headquar- 
ters, marshaling areas, and sectors, these 
tables covered a twenty-four hours' flow 
into marshaling areas. Showing the allo- 
cation of units to ports, the dates on which 
units would move to marshaling areas, 
and the priority of loading, the force move- 
ment tables served as instructions to trans- 
portation agencies to move units into 
marshaling camps, and provided the basis 
for breaking down units into ship and craft 
loads. 



Within this framework, U.S. movement 
control functions were performed by Trans- 
portation Corps personnel at the theater 
and base section levels. The chief of trans- 
portation exercised technical supervision 
over American movements and, through 
his Operational Branch, issued instruc- 
tions for the movement of units and vehi- 
cles to concentration area camps. The 
flow of troops and vehicles forward from 
the concentration area was controlled by 
the base sections, through the medium of 
the regional movement control organiza- 
tion, which had been set up in the Bolero 
period. '- 

Encompassing virtually the entire 
mounting area, the Southern Base Section 
was responsible for the great bulk of the 
marshaling and embarkation, although 
the Western Base Section assisted in 
mounting two airborne divisions and a 
portion of the seaborne build-up forces. 
Southern Base Section's four districts, 
bearing the Roman numerals XVI, XVII, 
XVIII, and XIX, were the principal ad- 
ministrative units in the mounting process. 
The latter two districts, on the southern 
coast of England, corresponded to the 
staging zones. The zones, in turn, were di- 
vided into nine marshaling areas, lettered 
alphabetically from east to west. Marshal- 
ing areas were commanded by officers re- 
sponsible to the district commanders. The 
Center Zone, or XVIII District, contained 
four marshaling areas. Area A, contain- 
ing the marshaling camps and embarka- 
tion points clustered about Portsmouth 
and Gosport, was to be entirely British; 
Areas B and C, in the vicinity of South- 
ampton, were to be used jointly by the 
Americans and British; and Area D, 
emptying into Portland and Weymouth, 
was to be completely American. The 

^■^ Hist Critique, p. 30. 



THE INVASION OF NORMANDY 



251 



Southwestern Zone, or XIX District, con- 
tained five marshaling areas, all American- 
operated. These areas, lettered K through 
O, were to empty through embarkation 
points in the vicinity of Torquay, Dart- 
mouth, Brixham, Plymouth, and Fal- 
mouth." 

Embarkation facilities in the Southern 
Base Section included a large number of 
artificial loading points as well as piers. 
Since there were insufficient piers to load 
all personnel and vehicles on landing craft 
and vessels, it was decided to construct so- 
called hards along the south coast of Eng- 
land from Deal westward. Selected and 
constructed by the British Admiralty, the 
hards were beaches paved with concrete 
slabs and connected with the main high- 
ways. At these hards, landing craft could 
lower their ramps and take on men and 
vehicles. Similar construction was unnec- 
essary in the Western Base Section, which 
loaded fewer troops and employed coasters 
and deep-sea vessels. ^^ 

Movement through Southern Base Sec- 
tion was effected by Transportation Corps 
personnel at the various echelons of com- 
mand. On the basis of MOVCO daily 
force movement tables, the Regional 
Transportation Officer, Southern Base 
Section, issued road and rail instructions 
for the movement of units from concentra- 
tion areas into marshaling areas. These 
instructions were carried out by the district 
transportation ofl?icers and their RTO's. 
Sector headquarters, agencies set up by 
the Southern Base Section, controlled 
movements from the marshaling areas to 
embarkation points within their assigned 
territories. Upon receipt of TURCO vessel 
availability notices and MOVCO force 
movement tables, the sector broke units 
down into craft and shiploads, and called 
them forward from the marshaling areas. 



In the embarkation areas Transportation 
Corps personnel received craft and ship- 
loads, and assigned them to temporary 
parking places pending actual embarka- 
tion. The appropriate port commander 
was responsible for the loading of troops 
and vehicles at the piers and hards. Actual 
loadings at the hards were handled by 
Transportation Corps embarkation staff" 
officers, in conjunction with naval hard- 
masters.^'^ 

To co-ordinate its marshaling and em- 
barkation activities, the Southern Base 
Section established an elaborate agency 
known as Embarkation Control (EM- 
BARCO). Its purpose was to maintain 
current data on units to be moved and the 
location and capacity of each camp in the 
U.S. Army concentration and marshaling 
areas under its jurisdiction. The Western 
Base Section, which had a far more mod- 
est role in the mounting process, had a 
simpler control mechanism. There the 
Transportation Corps was made responsi- 
ble for all movement orders, and, through 
a sector headquarters at Newport and a 
subsector headquarters at Swansea, regu- 
lated all movements from marshaling areas 
to embarkation points.^'' 



^3 Gen Bd Rpt, USFET, Study 129, p. 5, OCT HB 
ETO; Hist, Southern Base Sec, Aug 43-Aug 44, pp. 
1 2- 1 3, AG Adm ETO 60 1 ; Hist Monograph, Hist Div 
USFET, Administrative and Logistical History of the 
European Theater of Operations, Pt. VI, Vol. I, pp. 
254-55, OCMH Files. The Southern Base Section ob- 
jected to the joint operation in the Southampton area 
but was overruled. Ltr, Brig Gen Charles O. Thrasher 
(Ret.) to Larson, 6 Jun 50, OCT HB Inquiries. 

** Hist Critique, pp. 19-20; Ruppenthal, op. cit., pp. 
361-62. 

^^ Hist Critique, pp. 30-31; Hist Rpt, TC ETO, II, 
108-110, OCT HB ETO. 

^« Ruppenthal, op. cit., pp. 364-65; Hist Rpt, TC 
ETO, Vol. Ill, Ch. V, pp. 1-2, OCT HB ETO. Called 
EMBARGO by its critics, EMBARGO proved cum- 
bersome and difficult to maintain. See Hist Critique, 
p. 32. 



252 



THE TRANSPORTATION CORPS 



The Embarkation Machinery 
Is Set in Motion 

Using the embarkation machinery out- 
lined above, the U.S. assauk, follow-up, 
and a portion of the build-up forces were 
to be loaded before D Day; additional 
forces were then to be outloaded as re- 
quired, by a shuttle operation between the 
south coast of England and the Continent. 
Assault Force O, consisting of the U.S. 1st 
Infantry Division and attached troops, 
was to make the initial attack on Omaha 
Beach. This force and its vehicles were 
scheduled for loading at Portland, Wey- 
mouth, and Poole, with the preponder- 
ance of vehicles being loaded through 
Portland. Assault Force U, made up of the 
4th Infantry Division and attachments, 
was to attack Utah Beach. Personnel and 
vehicles of the 4th were to embark at Tor- 
quay, Salcombe, Dartmouth, and Brix- 
ham. A follow-up unit, Force B, built 
around the 29th Infantry Division, and 
two airborne divisions (the 82d and 101st) 
completed the first American contingent 
in the Normandy invasion. Troops and 
vehicles of Force B were to embark at 
Plymouth, Falmouth, and Fowey. The 
1st, 4th, and 29th Divisions, which were 
to be combat loaded, prepared their own 
loading tables with the assistance of the 
Transportation Corps. All together, ten 
transports (APA's and XAPA's) and 539 
landing craft were assigned to carry the 
troops and vehicles for the assault. (Chart 
3) The troop and vehicle lift, by sector, 
was as follows: *^ 

Sector Troops Vehicles 

Total 90,562 11,850 

Falmouth 14,035 2,604 

Plymouth 22,790 2,595 

Dartmouth 21,857 3,516 

Weymouth 31 ,880 3,1 35 



The preloaded build-up forces, consist- 
ing of the 2d and 90th Divisions and at- 
tached troops, were to embark from the 
Bristol Channel ports on coasters and 
deep-sea ships, including a number spe- 
cially fitted for carrying vehicles. The 2d 
Infantry Division and attachments, aggre- 
gating 23,100 troops and 3,280 vehicles, 
was to land on Omaha Beach on D plus 1 
and D plus 2. The 90th Division, consist- 
ing of 19,340 assault and attached troops 
and 2,835 vehicles, was to land on Utah 
at the same time. Outloading the normal 
build-up forces that were to follow was to 
begin on D Day and would be dependent 
on the utilization of craft and vessels re- 
turning from the far shore. The principal 
obstacles anticipated during this period 
were the discharge capacity of the beaches, 
adverse weather conditions, enemy action, 
and marine casualties. 

The embarkation machinery was set in 
motion in late April 1944, when forces 
were marshaled to participate in the last 
amphibious exercises. The loading of the 
assault and follow-up forces began at the 
end of May, and was completed on 3 June 
1944. The preloaded build-up forces were 
aboard one day later. Aside from the 5th 
and 8th Divisions, which embarked from 
Northern Ireland in late June and early 
July and the 9th Armored Group which 
loaded at Swansea in the Bristol Channel 
area, the bulk of the normal build-up 
forces moved through the Southern Base 
Section, with Southampton and its sub- 
ports playing the major role in outload- 
ing." 



" Rpt, Stat Br OCT ETO, Tran Statistics ETO, 6 
Jun 44-8 May 45, May 45, p. 7, OCT HB ETO Staff 
Rpts. 

" Hist Critique, pp. 33-35; Gen Bd Rpts, USFET, 
Study 122, p. 22, Study 129, p. 6, OCT HB ETO; Ltr, 
Ross to Larson, 15 Jun 49, OCT HB Inquiries; Hist 
Rpt, 1 7th Port, Aug 44, and Hist, 1 7th Port, Ch. VI 
and App., OCF HB Oversea Ports. Cf. Ruppenthal, 
of), cil., pp. 365-73. 



Chart 3 — Loading of U. S. Assault Forces for Normandy Invasion: June 1944 

10,000 20,000 30,000 



WEYMOUTH 



DARTMOUTH 



PLYMOUTH 



FALMOUTH 





FRANCE 




Source: Statistics Branch, TC Hq ETO. 



254 



THE TRANSPORTATION CORPS 



As men and vehicles began flowing from 
concentration areas to marshaling camps 
and embarkation points in the last weeks 
before D Day, southern England became 
the scene of intense activity. The traflUc in 
the Southern Base Section was particu- 
larly heavy, and in certain cities such as 
Oxford, Gloucester, and Cheltenham, spe- 
cial movement control points had to be 
set up with RTO's. The Medical Corps 
assisted by taking care of casualties en 
route, and the Ordnance Department su- 
pervised the important task of waterproof- 
ing vehicles for the amphibious landing 
and made necessary last-minute repairs. 

To control traflfic in the Southern Base 
Section, the regional transportation officer. 
Col. Walter D. McCord, required more 
than one hundred railway traffic offices 
for operation under the district transpor- 
tation offices. Although eleven traffic reg- 
ulating groups were in operation on D 
Day, the tremendous movement of troops 
and supplies necessitated the procurement 
of an additional fifty officers and enlisted 
men for duty in the XVIII District, which 
became the main outlet for all movements 
following the initial assault. During this 
period the Transportation Corps was ham- 
pered either by an actual shortage of per- 
sonnel or by the limited value of traffic 
regulating units, which had arrived so late 
that proper training and co-ordination 
proved very difficult. Between 4 June 
(D minus 2) and 13 June (D plus 7), no 
fewer than 152,000 troops and 29,000 ve- 
hicles were moved into the marshaling 
areas. During the remainder of the month 
An average of 15,000 troops and 3,000 ve- 
hicles per day entered these areas. '" 

Meanwhile, the loading of supplies and 
equipment for the support of the assault 
and build-up forces had begun. This 
transportation task was to prove no less 



difficult than the mounting of troops and 
vehicles, and required comparable 
planning. 

The Overlord Supply Movement 
Program 

The Transportation Corps had begun 
to plan for cargo movements incident to 
Overlord in September 1943, about the 
time that it commenced its study of em- 
barkation procedures. In conjunction 
with the British Office of the Director of 
Freight Movements, the Transportation 
Corps Operational Branch undertook a 
survey of the outloading capacities of 
U.K. ports and of the ability of the British 
railways to handle traffic from depots to 
ports. This study was only exploratory 
since tonnage requirements of the forces 
to be engaged in Overlord had not yet 
been determined. By mid-February 1944 
G-4 was able to provide the Operational 
Branch with the tonnage requirements of 
the Army supply services, and although 
data on requirements for Air Forces tech- 
nical supplies and for the U.S. Navy and 
Civil Aff'airs were still lacking, the Oper- 
ational Branch decided to set up a tenta- 
tive freight movement and shipping 
program for Overlord. In early March 
berths with an estimated outloading ca- 
pacity of 27,678 dead-weight tons daily 
were allocated .for U.S. and British re- 
quirements, with each nation receiving 
about half the capacity. The American al- 
location was later increased to 17,903 
dead-weight tons daily, based on the use 
of the Bristol Channel ports, Fowey, Ply- 
mouth, and part of Southampton. To 
assist in lifting this American tonnage, the 



'» Hist Rpt, TC ETO, Vol. Ill, Ch. VI, pp. 1-6, 
OCT HB ETO. 



THE INVASION OF NORMANDY 



255 



British Ministry of War Transport made 
available 184 coasters.^'' 

Meanwhile, the First U.S. Army had 
been assembling supply requirements data 
for the first twenty days of Overlord, and 
on 15 March 1944 it published its supply 
plan. The plan outlined daily tonnage re- 
quirements for the assault phase, D Day 
through D plus 2, and the build-up that 
was to follow. All supplies for the first 
three days would be preloaded on coast- 
ers, LCT's, and LBV's (landing barges, 
vehicle). Thereafter, shipments would be 
made by coasters and deep-sea vessels. 
Tonnage requirements were to rise from 
5,326 dead-weight tons on D Day to 23,- 
362 dead-weight tons on D plus 18. An 
additional 12,000 tons of supplies, mainly 
ammunition, packaged petroleum prod- 
ucts, and Engineer equipment, would be 
preloaded on dumb barges. The barges 
would be towed to Normandy and there 
driven onto the beaches, where their car- 
goes could be used as a reserve in the 
event adverse weather conditions inter- 
fered with the discharge of coasters. Later, 
the First Army published a breakdown of 
tonnages to be delivered separately to the 
Omaha and Utah Beaches, and projected 
preloading operations, originally intended 
to cover only cargo for the assault phase, 
were expanded to include all supplies re- 
quired for both the assault and the build- 
up during the first eight days of the cam- 
paign. 

At this time the Operational Branch 
was at work on a plan for the entire Over- 
lord period, including the phases after D 
plus 20 when the 1st Army Group would 
be responsible for assembling supply re- 
quirements. After consultation with the 
British War Office, the Operational 
Branch on 26 April 1944 published pro- 
cedures covering the movements and doc- 



umentation of supplies from depots 
through U.K. ports. These were further 
elaborated in SOS movement instructions 
issued on 6 May. 

As finally conceived, supply movements 
were to be divided into four phases. Dur- 
ing the first (prestowed) phase, all cargo 
to land on the far shore from D Day 
through D plus 8 would be loaded be- 
tween Y minus 21 (Y Day being the readi- 
ness date for the invasion) and Y minus 8. 
During this period, cargo would be tac- 
tically loaded as required by the First 
Army, using LBV's, LCT's, barges, coast- 
ers, and Liberty ships (MTV's) specifi- 
cally fitted to handle vehicles. The coasters, 
varying in capacity from 200 to 2,500 
tons, were to be the backbone of the fleet. 
To insure the arrival of the right quanti- 
ties of required supplies at each beach, 
vessels would be loaded with mixed cargo. 
They would be prestowed in accordance 
with detailed plans worked out by the 
Transportation Corps' Marine Operations 
Division in line with tactical requirements. 
Every effort was to be made to keep the 
composition of cargo as simple as possible 
so as to facilitate its discharge and distri- 
bution on the far shore. 

In the second (sustained movement) 
phase, supplies would be loaded in the 
period of Y minus 21 through D plus 11 
for delivery on the far shore D plus 9 
through D plus 21. In this phase the coast- 
ers, including those returning from the far 
shore, would still be the major carriers, 
supplemented by MTV's and commodity- 
loaded Liberties. The coasters, based on 
specific U.K. ports, would operate on 



'" Unless otherwise indicated, the account of sup- 
ply movement planning and preparations is based on 
the Hist Critique, pp. 54-73. Also, see Consolidated 
Rpt on TC Activities in ETO, Annex 5, pp. 11-16. 



256 



THE TRANSPORTATION CORPS 



shuttle runs between the ports and the 
Normandy beaches, and cargo would be 
consigned to U.K. ports for outloading as 
shipping became available. Certain com- 
modities, notably ammunition, packaged 
POL, and heavy Engineer equipment, 
were to be commodity loaded at desig- 
nated U.K. ports. Since it was not known 
precisely when individual vessels would 
return and since such ships varied greatly 
in size and capacity, the preparation of 
detailed prestowage plans would be im- 
practicable. The port commanders there- 
fore were to be responsible for planning 
the stowage of vessels as they returned 
from the far shore. 

Loading for phase three (maintenance 
movement) was to take place from D plus 
12 through D plus 31 and was to include 
cargo required on the far shore between 
D plus 21 and D plus 41. In this period 
coasters would continue to be important, 
but ocean-going vessels — Liberties pre- 
stowed or commodity loaded in the United 
States as well as those loaded at British 
ports — would be used in increasing num- 
bers. It was anticipated that almost all 
small vessels could be commodity loaded. 

During the fourth (change over) phase, 
loadings would take place on D plus 32 
through D plus 80 for delivery to the Con- 
tinent D plus 42 through D plus 90. In 
this period, the brunt of the shipping bur- 
den would be shouldered by ocean-going 
vessels, largely from the United States, 
supplemented by a reduced coaster fleet 
from the United Kingdom. It was ex- 
pected that the prestowage of ships in the 
United States with supplies of known ac- 
ceptability for immediate discharge on the 
Continent would eliminate transshipment 
through the United Kingdom. Also, since 
reserves would have been built up on the 
Continent by this time, it would no longer 



be necessary to outload supplies to fill re- 
quirements on a day-to-day basis.'' 

Although the primary emphasis was 
placed on the regularly scheduled move- 
ment of supplies, it was recognized that 
the shipment of certain items might have 
to be expedited to meet urgent needs on 
the far shore. Therefore, blood, medical 
supplies, radio sets and parts, and other 
high-priority freight were to be carried 
under a Red Ball express system.^- Dis- 
patched through Southampton, express 
shipments were limited to approximately 
100 dead- weight tons per day. The first 
shipment comprised nearly a ton of radio 
sets and parts destined for Omaha Beach. 
Forwarded by truck to the port, Red Ball 
items as a rule received top stowage so as 
to facilitate discharge in France. Unfor- 
tunately, the desire of the supply services 
and agencies on the Continent to utilize 
fully the allotted tonnage capacity occa- 
sionally led to the shipment of razor 
blades, grass seed, and other cargo that 
could scarcely be considered critical. ''^ 

A Greenlight system, limited to ap- 
proximately 600 dead-weight tons per 
day, was set up to transport ammunition 
and engineer construction material across 
the Channel to meet unforeseen tactical 
requirements. A total of five days was re- 
quired to move such shipments from the 
depots to the port by special train and 
then by coaster to France. To streamline 
the operation, documentation was simpli- 
fied. Ships carrying these supplies had a 
large green disk painted on the bow. The 



"'' Opn "Overlord" Sup Mvmt (U.S.) Instructions, 
Hq SOS ETOUSA, 6 May 44, USFET OCT 523 Sup 
Mvmt Overlord 1944, KCRC AGO; Hist Critique, 
pp. 5-6. 

■'- This must not be confused with the Red Bail 
truck route subsecjuently established on the Continent. 

■'■' Hist Critic|ue, pp. 69-7 1 ; Ltr, Ross to Larson, 15 
Jun 49, OCT IIB Inciuiries. 



THE INVASION OF NORMANDY 



257 



Greenlight project began on 21 June, and 
the last shipment left Southampton on 23 
July. Most shipments consisted of ammu- 
nition and were delivered mainly to 
Omaha Beach. ^^ 

Implementation of the supply move- 
ment program involved a multitude of de- 
tails. Among other things, detailed proce- 
dures for traffic control, documentation, 
packing, and marking were worked out, 
and specific berths at the various ports on 
the Bristol Channel and the southern 
coast of England were selected to handle 
general cargo, ammunition, or packaged 
petroleum. Various ports were designated 
to outload special supplies. Engineer out- 
of-gauge and heavy equipment, for ex- 
ample, was to move through Cardiff, 
lumber and piling through Southampton 
and Barry, and coal through Cardiff" and 
Swansea. 

To effect the most economical use of rail 
transportation and to facilitate outload- 
ing, depots were assigned to serve specific 
port areas, port storage space was pro- 
vided to accommodate stocks which could 
be drawn upon during peak operations, 
and provision was made for the maximum 
utilization of pier sheds for the reception 
and loading of cargo arriving from the 
depots. Cargo would be called forward 
initially in boatloads in line with prestow- 
age plans. Subsequent shipments, consist- 
ing of several days' supply for specific far 
shore areas, would be consigned to the 
United Kingdom port commander con- 
cerned, who would develop stowage plans 
to provide for vessels to arrive at the 
proper beach on the day designated in 
movements instructions.'''' 

The Operational Movement Instruc- 
tion, issued jointly by the theater chief of 
transportation and the British director of 
freight movements, was the cornerstone of 



the system governing the flow of supplies 
and equipment from United Kingdom 
depots through the ports to the far shore. 
On the basis of projected daily require- 
ments assembled by the tactical com- 
mands, the chiefs of supply services of the 
Army, Air Forces, and Navy determined 
from which United Kingdom depots the 
required supplies and equipment were to 
be shipped, and indicated to the depots 
the specific quantities under each priority 
rating, the destination, and the date of de- 
livery at the far shore. 

Upon notice from the appropriate chief 
of service, the depot or the supply service 
headquarters involved would prepare the 
supplies or equipment for shipment and 
prepare a separate Depot Supplies Ship- 
ment Data (DSSD) form covering supplies 
or equipment for each destination and 
each date of delivery on the far shore.''" 
Copies of this form were then forwarded 
to the Transportation Corps Operational 
Branch and the local U.S. RTO at the 
depot. On the basis of the DSSD and the 
outloading capacity of the ports, the Op- 
erational Branch published the Opera- 
tional Movement Instructions. These in- 
structions included the Supplies Shipping 
Index number of the shipment — identify- 
ing in code the port of loading and the 
port or beach of destination — a descrip- 
tion of the cargo, its dead-weight and 
measurement tonnage, rail or road paths 
to be followed, and the time of arrival at 
the ports. These instructions in effect 



■^^ Emergency shipments were also made by air. See 
Gen Bd Rpt, USFET, Study 129, pp. 3-4, OCT HB 
ETO. 

>■' "Overlord" Sup Mvmt Instructions cited n. 51; 
Hist Critique, pp. 58-60, 96-100; Consolidated Rpt of 
TC Activities in ETO, p. 27. 

■"' The theater chief of ordnance provided similar 
information on an Ammunition Ship and Reference 
Sheet, instead of a DSSD. 



258 



THE TRANSPORTATION CORPS 



served as an order to the depot to ship cer- 
tain supplies to specified ports on desig- 
nated dates; to the railway concerned to 
move such traffic; and to the port to out- 
load such supplies on the date and to the 
destinations indicated. 

As the rail cars or vehicles were dis- 
patched from the depot, the local RTO 
forwarded by teletype a Traffic Dispatch 
Advice to the port of embarkation. Upon 
arrival of the shipment, the port com- 
mander manifested the cargo to be loaded 
aboard a particular ship, drew up a cargo 
stowage plan showing the cargo's location 
in the vessel, and prepared a "Breakdown 
of Manifest" for each supply service with 
cargo aboard. This last form gave a de- 
scription of the cargo, its tonnage, and 
hatch location. As the ship was loaded, 
the port prepared a Graphic Stowage 
Plan, and indicated the location of any 
items that would require heavy cargo- 
handling equipment at destination. Once 
the ships were loaded, their delivery to the 
far shore was a responsibility of 
TURCO.^^ 

While supply movement plans and 
procedures were being developed, the 
Transportation Corps devised several spe- 
cial expedients fcr delivering essential 
equipment and material across the Chan- 
nel. Among these was the use of converted 
Liberty ships as motor transport vessels to 
carry trucks and drivers to Normandy. 
The conversion, which was accomplished 
by U.S. military railway shop battalion 
detachments, involved ballasting and 
flooring off the lower hold, so as to provide 
space for vehicles in four of the hatches; 
the installation of deck latrines; and the 
conversion of the fifth hatch into living 
quarters for the drivers who accompanied 
each shipment. The average vessel lifted 
approximately 120 loaded vehicles and 



500 men on each outbound voyage. As 
indicated earlier, the 14th Port at South- 
ampton took the lead in dispatching 
MTV's to support the invasion force. At 
first, vehicles were discharged on the far 
shore by barge or lighter, using the ship's 
own gear.^^ 

Under the supervision of the 14th Port, 
American and Canadian personnel co- 
operated in building huge rafts, similar 
to those employed to float lumber on the 
Columbia River in the Pacific Northwest 
and consisting of large bundles of wooden 
poles and piling bound together by cables. 
They were to be towed across the Chan- 
nel and landed on the far shore for the 
use of Engineer and Signal Corps con- 
struction units. At Southampton and 
Poole the 14th Port had the preinvasion 
project of stowing 104 self-propelled 
barges (LBV type) with ammunition, pe- 
troleum products, and Quartermaster 
supplies. Because of the supreme impor- 
tance of having sufficient gasoline and oil 
to sustain the Allied air and ground offen- 
sive, the 14th Port was also made respon- 
sible for loading a special pool of tankers 
at the Solent installations of Hamble and 
Fawley.^^ 

Specially equipped LST's were sched- 
uled to move assembled railway cars to 
France. Rails were laid on the lower deck, 
and the ramp was modified. The cars were 
loaded and unloaded over track laid on 
improvised shore-side ramps that could be 



" Hist Critique, p. 67; "Overlord" Sup Mvmt In- 
structions cited n. 51; Consolidated Rpt on TC Ac- 
tivities in ETO, pp. 34-35; Hist, 17th Port, Ch. VI, 
pp. 14-15, OCT HB ETO Oversea Ports. 

■■" OCT HB Monograph 18, pp. 75-76; Hist, 14th 
Port, Opn Overlord (6 Jun-6 Sep 44), pp. 10, 14, 
16-17, and App., Sec. IV, OCT HB Oversea Ports. 

■■' Hist Rpt, TC ETO, Vol. Ill, Ch. VII, pp. 6-8, 
OCr HB ETO; Hist, 14th Port, Opn Overlord, pp. 
6 7, 9-11, 17, and App., Sec. HI, OCT HB Oversea 
Ports. 



THE INVASION OF NORMANDY 



259 



raised or lowered with the tide. The LST 
was made fast to the tracked ramp, and 
the cars were pulled on or off as required. 
Such ramps were constructed first at 
Southampton and later in Cherbourg, the 
principal terminals for cross-Channel rail- 
way traffic. By 6 June 1944 some 15 LST's 
had been converted to ferry rolling stock. 
Actual ferrying to the Continent was be- 
gun in the following month. Larger rolling 
stock, such as locomotives and tank, re- 
frigerator, and passenger cars were lifted 
on British sea ferries, on the two American 
seatrains — the Texas and the Lakehurst — 
and aboard a number of large car floats 
that had been towed to the theater from 
New York. The seatrains operated mainly 
between Cardiff and Cherbourg, while 
the ferries shuttled between Southampton 
and Cherbourg. A Transportation Corps 
officer. Colonel Bingham, was in charge 
of the entire ferrying program.''" 

Among its other preparatory activities, 
the Transportation Corps submitted spe- 
cial procurement projects to augment the 
supply of floating equipment and to fur- 
nish replacements for inadequate cargo- 
handling equipment on British coasters. 
The Transportation Corps marine equip- 
ment, consisting of tugs, barges, small Y- 
type tankers, and various types of tow- 
boats and other craft and manned by both 
military and civilian personnel, was to 
prove extremely useful. In the United 
Kingdom they towed invasion craft to and 
from assigned berths within the ports. Ap- 
proximately thirty-four Transportation 
Corps tugs were assigned to cross-Channel 
operations. They moved landing craft on 
and off the beaches, towed units for the 
artificial harbors, and did sea rescue work. 
Ten MTL's (motor towboat, large) and at 
least one tug were lost or damaged beyond 
repair. Only one of the tankers, the Y-24, 



was reported a casualty. Beached on the 
far shore, she pumped gasoline directly 
inio the tanks of waiting trucks. Eventu- 
ally, most of these vessels were assigned to 
harbor craft companies and then dis- 
patched to the Continent.''' 

The signal to begin mounting cargo 
was given in late April 1944 when Oper- 
ational Movement Instruction 61 was is- 
sued to cover the movement of cargo for 
preloading on LBV's, LCT's, and dumb 
barges. Also, separate movement instruc- 
tions were published for each of the 132 
coasters to be loaded at U.K. ports before 
D Day. A total of 274 vessels and craft 
were involved in the preload, and stowage 
plans had been drawn up for each before 
the issuance of the movement instructions. 

The preloading of the large fleet of 
coasters, barges, and landing craft com- 
menced on 4 May 1944. Cargo destined 
for discharge at Omaha was loaded be- 
tween that date and 5 June. During this 
period 12 dumb barges were loaded at 
Fowey, 68 LBV's at Southampton and 
Poole, 7 LCT's at Plymouth, and 80 coast- 
ers at Port Talbot, Garston, Swansea, 
Newport, Barry, Cardiff, and Portishead 
in the Bristol Channel area. Cargo in- 
tended for delivery to Utah Beach was 
loaded between 6 and 26 May. In this op- 
eration 8 dumb barges, 1 1 LCT's, and 7 
LBV's were loaded at Plymouth, 29 
LBV's at Southampton, and 52 coasters at 
Sharpness, Penarth, Portishead, and 



«» Hist, 14th Port, Opn Overlord, p. 22, OCT HB 
Oversea Ports; Consolidated Rpt on TC Activities in 
ETO, Annex 8, pp. 16-17; Ltr, Ross to Gross, 6 Jun 
44, OCT HB Gross ETO — Gen Ross; Special Rpt, 
Cherbourg Port Reconstruction, 5 Mar 45, compiled 
by Lt Col Joseph A. Crist, OCofE ETO, pp. 41, 46- 
47, 130, OCT HB ETO France Ports. 

'■' Hist Rpt, TC ETO, Vol. HI, Ch. VII, pp. 10-14; 
OCT HB ETO; Hist, 14th Port. Sep 45, App. (Saga of 
Y-Boat Fleet), OCT HB Oversea Ports. Cf. Ltr, Ross 
to Gross, 6 Jun 44, OCT HB Gross ETO — Gen Ross. 



260 



THE TRANSPORTATION CORPS 



Avonmouth. By D Day a total of 107,606 
dead-weight tons had been preloaded for 
shipment to the far shore. This figure may 
be broken down as follows i*^- 

For For 

Omaha Utah 

Type of Cargo Beach Beach 

(Dead- freight Tons) 

POL 18,244 8,070 

Ammunition 28, 754 18, 320 

General cargo 19, 653 14, 565 



On the eve of the invasion the U.S. as- 
sault, follow-up, and initial forces, and the 
supplies and equipment necessary for their 
support had been loaded and were await- 
ing call forward. The larger and in many 
respects the more difficult job of sustain- 
ing the build-up on the Continent was still 
to be performed. United Kingdom out- 
loadings of U.S. troops, supplies, and 
equipment attained greatest proportions 
during the Overlord period, but con- 
tinued important through V-E Day. 

Outloading From the United Kingdom 

On D Day the preloading program had 
been completed, and the sustained build- 
up phase had begun. Detailed plans had 
been formulated for a smooth predeter- 
mined flow of men, vehicles, and cargo to 
U.K. ports, and for a continuous shuttle 
service to transport them to continental 
destinations. Subject to uncertainties re- 
garding the return of vessels and craft 
from the far shore, the tactical situation, 
and the weather, the build-up program 
ran into difficulties almost from the 
beginning. 

Troops and Vehicles 

The build-up of troops and vehicles was 
handled through Southampton and Port- 



land-Weymouth, although Falmouth and 
Plymouth were also used somewhat in the 
early stages. The marshaling of units in 
the areas that backed up these ports began 
before D Day. When the invasion was 
postponed from the 5th to the 6th of June, 
the British temporarily halted their troop 
flow, but the Americans continued to 
move units from concentration areas to 
marshaling camps and embarkation 
points.''^ This led to the first signs of con- 
gestion in the marshaling camps and at 
the ports. U.S. activities at Southampton, 
the principal port of embarkation, were 
almost nil on D Day, since the British 
were using the area to embark their 
forces, but beginning 7 June the port was 
crowded with marching columns of U.S. 
troops and long convoys of vehicles, tanks, 
and other materiel. At the outset the port 
experienced a serious shortage of person- 
nel, and there were not enough vessels and 
craft to lift all the forces moving into the 
port area. 

The week that followed was attended 
by congestion, confusion, and a temporary 
loss of control of the mounting machinery. 
There were several factors responsible for 
this state of aflairs. In the first few days, 
movements forward from concentration 
areas conformed to the U.S. First Army's 
build-up priority tables, but thereafter the 
tactical situation dictated frequent 



'•-' Hist Critique, pp. 64-67. 

"' According to the former chief of staff of the 
Southern Base Section, the failure to delay enough 
troops to counteract the one-day delay was attribut- 
able to security recjuirements, Movement orders to all 
units had to be transmitted by officer courier. Realiz- 
ing that the troops already on the move could not be 
halted without great confusion, Southern Base Section 
permitted them to continue to move. When it was 
found that additional delays would be caused by the 
nonreturn of ships, orders were dispatched by couriers 
to hold back units. See Ltr, Col Charles R. Broshous to 
Maj Gen Albert C. Smith, Chief of Mil Hist, 9Jun 54, 
OCMH Files. 



THE INVASION OF NORMANDY 



261 



changes in priorities. These changes were 
incorporated into MOVCO's force move- 
ment tables, which were implemented by 
Southern Base Section. Soon there was 
little relation between the planned se- 
quence of movements and the actual flow 
into marshaling and embarkation areas. 
The frequent changes in priority caused 
heavy congestion in the marshaling 
camps, for once a unit had been moved 
forward, it had to be held in the camp 
while higher-priority units were processed 
and sent through ahead of it. Moreover, 
priorities were often set by the tactical 
command on the far shore without regard 
to the readiness of units. This resulted in 
many being called forward before they 
were properly equipped and organized. 
Other units, desiring to keep their troops 
and organizational equipment intact, did 
not shed their overhead personnel and 
excess equipment in the concentration 
area as provided for in the embarkation 
procedure, but took them along to the 
marshaling camps, thereby contributing 
to the congestion. Finally, ships and craft 
did not return from the far shore in the 
number or at the time expected, so that 
more troops were in embarkation areas 
than could be loaded promptly.''' 

The magnitude of the operation, fre- 
quent changes in priorities, the lack of 
shipping, and other difficulties caused a 
disorganization of the mounting machin- 
ery that attained serious proportions be- 
tween 9 and 12 June. ''^ Marshaling areas 
were clogged, ports were crowded, and 
advance information regarding the avail- 
ability of craft was lacking. EMBARGO 
could not keep up with the frequent 
changes in the status of troops, and in 
many cases was unable to furnish accurate 
information regarding the location of 
units. At Southampton loading tables 



issued by sector headquarters before the 
arrival of units proved erroneous, so that 
all planning and loading had to be 
effected after the units had arrived, when 
the actual number of troops and vehicles 
could be determined. 

In an effort to dissipate the tie-up, on 
9 June BUCO ordered the loading of units 
on vessels as rapidly as possible regardless 
of priority and directed the temporary 
curtailment of movements into the mar- 
shaling camps behind Southampton. 
Units were then moved into embarkation 
points and loaded on ships and craft as 
rapidly as they became available. At the 
piers and hards, embarkation had to be 
accomplished on short notice and often 
without the benefit even of hurriedly pre- 
pared plans. In some cases no records 
were kept of these loadings, a deficiency 
that might have proved serious had ship- 
ping losses occurred. 

Through strenuous efforts, which left 
not a few oflRcers and enlisted men on the 
point of exhaustion, the situation on the 
near shore was improved. There is little 
evidence that either administrative con- 
fusion or congestion of the marshaling 
areas persisted after 12 June. Outloadings 
continued to lag, however, because of the 
limited reception capacity on the far 
shore, the slow turnaround of vessels, and 
the shipping shortage. The decline in out- 

"^ Ruppenthal, op. at., pp. 422-24; Hist, 14th Port, 
Opn Overlord, pp. 11-13, OCT HB Oversea Ports; 
Hist Critique, pp. 37-38; Interv, Larson with Col 
McCord and Lt Col Leo J. Meyer, 27 Oct 49, OCT 
HB ETO SBS; Gen Bd Rpt, USFET, Study 129, p. 
12,OCTHBETO. 

'^'- For a graphic account of the situation in the 
XVIII District, see Brig. Gen. Paschal N. Strong's 
article, "An Invasion Is Jeopardized," in the Combat 
Forces Journal, IV, 4 (November 1953), 29-33. The 
article, drawn largely from personal recollection, 
should be read in conjunction with Dr. Richard 
Leighton's documented study. Commentary on a 
Memoir (OCMH Files). 



262 



THE TRANSPORTATION CORPS 



loadings was halted and reversed on 18 
June, but the onset of the violent storm of 
19-22 June reduced cross-Channel move- 
ments to a trickle. Thereafter, the build- 
up proceeded in a far more orderly 
fashion.''*' Toward the end of the month 
the theater requested and received addi- 
tional LST's and MTV's. By July the 
control of movements was effective, and 
vessel availability had greatly improved. 
Although difficulties continued to arise, 
the principal bottlenecks had been 
broken. 

From the experience in the United 
Kingdom, particularly during the first 
weeks of the build-up, certain conclusions 
may be drawn regarding some of the 
major causes of the difficulties encoun- 
tered. One deficiency that appears evident 
in retrospect is that BUCO lacked suffi- 
cient authority to regulate the mounting 
machinery in a fully effective manner. Al- 
though charged with responsibility for 
controlling the build-up, BUCO was not 
formally an agency of SHAEF, 21 Army 
Group, or the First U.S. Army. To carry 
out its mission BUCO had to deal with 
the many agencies involved in the embar- 
kation process, and its uncertain authority 
made the co-ordination of activities ex- 
tremely difficult, and sometimes delayed 
corrective action. A theater General 
Board study made after the war con- 
cluded that a central organization should 
have been set up, responsible directly to 
the highest tactical commander involved 
in the operation, and authorized to repre- 
sent him on all matters affecting the 
build-up. 

A Transportation Corps movements of- 
ficial suggested that wasteful duplication 
in higher headquarters could have been 
eliminated if all build-up planning had 
been centralized in BUCO. Under this 



concept representatives from the Southern 
Base Section and its districts and from 
theater general stafTsections should have 
been placed at BUCO to plan and change 
priorities and indicate the concentration 
area or marshaling area to which they 
desired units moved. These instructions 
could have been given to the Operational 
Branch, which through Transportation 
Corps channels would have controlled 
actual movement from home station to 
concentration and marshaling areas.''' 

As has been stated, the frequent changes 
in the priority of units posed serious prob- 
lems. Such changes tended to congest 
marshaling areas, hindered normal troop 
movements, created confusion, and some- 
times resulted in split shipments. Occa- 
sionally, units were phased forward as 
much as three weeks, and in several in- 
stances units were called up before they 
had been fully equipped. However, the 
difficulties were to a large extent unavoid- 
able, since most changes were dictated by 
the tactical situation. 

Less justifiable was the failure of many 
unit commanders to adhere to established 
mounting procedure. This applied par- 
ticularly to the provision for stripping 
units in the concentration areas of over- 
head personnel and of organizational 
equipment other than that carried in unit 
vehicles. According to the plan, the equip- 
ment would then be shipped as freight so 
as to arrive on the far shore shortly before 



"•^ Leighton, Commentary on a Memoir, passim, 
OCMH Files; Ruppcnthal, op. cit., pp. 424-26; Hist, 
14th Port, Opn Overlord, p. 14, OCT HB Oversea 
Ports. Also, see Consolidated Rpt on TC Activities in 
ETO, Annex 5, Movements Division, Office of the 
Chief of Transportation, Operations in the European 
Theater of Operations, Annex A, p. 2; and Interv, 
Larson with McCord and Meyer, 27 Oct 49, OCT HB 
ETO SBS. 

'■ Gen Bd Rpt, USFET, Study 22, p. 13, OCT HB 
ETO; Hist Critique, p. 38. 



THE INVASION OF NORMANDY 



263 



the unit. The residual personnel would 
follow later. During the actual mounting 
process, however, many unit commanders 
took all their vehicles, troops, and equip- 
ment into the marshaling camps, insisted 
that they be loaded, and resisted the split- 
ting up of their unit into craft loads for 
embarkation. This aggravated the conges- 
tion in marshaling camps, and tended to 
disorganize movement and loading activ- 
ities. Since the constant shifting of prior- 
ities for units upset the scheduling of ship- 
ments of organizational equipment and 
occasionally caused delays in delivery or 
losses, the attitude of unit commanders is 
understandable. Nevertheless, there is 
little doubt that had the commanders 
conformed to the procedure set down in 
the POM-ETO-SSV, the flow of troops 
and equipment would have been greatly 
expedited. The problem of placing organ- 
izational equipment on the far shore when 
needed could have been handled by giv- 
ing such equipment priority treatment.""^ 

Another deficiency involved the man- 
ning of camps and other installations 
engaged in the mounting operation. Still 
heavily engaged in the Bolero program, 
the SOS organization had been unable to 
provide sufficient personnel in advance to 
receive training in mounting procedures. 
Also, it proved necessary to use units in- 
tended for eventual movement to the Con- 
tinent for housekeeping functions, and 
when these units were moved out they 
were replaced by troops not trained for 
their work. Inexperience and lack of train- 
ing inevitably had an adverse effect on 
the processing of units and slowed the 
mounting process.''" 

Outloadings of personnel and vehicles 
reached a peak in July 1944 and contin- 
ued heavy through September. During 
this period there was some simplification 



of organization and procedures in the 
Southern Base Section. Beginning in July, 
troops scheduled for loading on deep-sea 
troop transports were entrained at con- 
centration area camps and moved directly 
to the water front. In the following month, 
Marshaling Area "C," which funneled 
units into Southampton, was turned over 
to the 14th Port. Previously, this marshal- 
ing area had been run by the Sector 
Headquarters, which had controlled the 
movement of units to the embarkation 
points. With this transfer, the area be- 
came the staging area of the 14th Port, 
which was given responsibility for the 
movement of troops from there to loading 
points.^" 

By the end of September 1944, a total 
of 1,462,426 personnel had been out- 
loaded from the United Kingdom for the 
Continent. The heaviest embarkations of 
men and vehicles were over the piers and 
hards at Southampton. In the period 
6June-6 September 1944, 686,868 per- 
sonnel were embarked at this port on 
LSI's, MTV's, LST's, LCI's, and LCT's, 
and 140,303 vehicles were loaded aboard 
MTV's, LST's, and LCT's. Southampton 
also handled patients and prisoners of war 
evacuated from the Continent. In addi- 
tion, the port played an important role 
in the outloading of cargo, rolling stock, 
and bulk POL."' The port facilities were 
shared by the Americans and the British 
on a day-to-day allocation made in 
accordance with the tactical needs. 



•=» Consolidated Rpt on TC Activities in ETO, 
Annex 5, p. 16; Gen Bd Rpt, USFET, Study 129, p. 
12, OCT HB ETO; Hist Critique, pp. 42-43. 

«9 Gen Bd Rpt, USFET, Study 129, p. 25, OCT HB 
ETO. 

'" Hist, 14th Port, Opn Overlord, pp. 15-16, OCT 
HB Oversea Ports. 

"' See below, pp. 268-69. 



264 



THE TRANSPORTATION CORPS 



Portland- Weymouth ranked second as 
an embarkation area, handling a daily 
loading program of 10,500 troops and 
1,500 vehicles aboard LSI's, LST's, LCI's, 
and LCT's. Plymouth and Falmouth were 
active as MTV loading ports until the 
latter part of July, moving a total of 
60,152 troops and 17,386 vehicles. The 
Bristol Channel ports were primarily used 
for loading cargo and played only a small 
part in personnel and vehicle embarka- 
tions. After preloading 42,410 troops and 
6,435 vehicles, these ports outloaded less 
than 6,200 personnel and accompanying 
equipment during the next three months. '- 

In September, when the great bulk of 
troops scheduled for the movement from 
the United Kingdom to the Continent 
had been outloaded, BUCO and EM- 
BARCO ceased to function. Their re- 
sponsibilities were turned over to the 
United Kingdom Base Section, and the 
U.S. MOVCO staff was absorbed by the 
office of the theater chief of transporta- 
tion. Thereafter, priorities were set by the 
United Kingdom Base Section G-4, with 
the Transportation Corps Operational 
Branch (later Movements Division) con- 
trolling the movement of all units through 
all stages into the marshaling (staging) 
area. Movement control was efTected in 
co-ordination with base section (later dis- 
trict) transportation officers, and United 
Kingdom port commanders.' ' 

It had been expected that troops would 
move from the United States directly to 
the Continent after September, but inade- 
quate port and staging facilities on the far 
shore led to a continuation of important 
outloading activities from the United 
Kingdom. From September 1944 through 
V-E Day, large troopships, including the 
Queens, the Mauretania, and the Aqiiitama, 
brought U.S. troops into the Clyde and 



Mersey ports for immediate transship- 
ment to the Continent. These troops were 
then moved by train to Southampton and 
its subports in the Portland-Weymouth 
area, which at that time was handling all 
cross-Channel troop shipments. Despite 
some interference with the normal move- 
ments of units to the Continent, a shortage 
of shipping, and bad weather, the trans- 
shipment program was accomplished 
smoothly. With the exception of periods of 
adverse weather conditions, troops were 
disembarked at the Clyde and Mersey 
areas and re-embarked at Southampton 
and Portland within eighteen hours. The 
transshipment operation ultimately in- 
volved eighty-two troop transports, over 
300,000 troops, and the operation in Great 
Britain of 742 special trains. 

The U.K. base also was called upon, 
beginning on 1 October, to handle con- 
voys carrying troops and their organiza- 
tional equipment and supplies from the 
United States that were intended origi- 
nally for discharge in France. These 
troops were staged and processed in the 
United Kingdom, and later moved to the 
Continent. The Transportation Corps 
Operational Branch was responsible for 
moving the troops and their equipment 
from ports of debarkation to designated 
locations in the United Kingdom. The 
convoys, which continued to arrive 
through 6 January 1945, totaled 83 troop- 
ships and 91 cargo vessels, carrying 269,- 
822 troops, 547,608 measurement tons of 
organizational equipment, and 330,027 
measurement tons of general cargo. Most 



'- Hist Critique, pp. 35-37, 53; Hist, 14th Port, Opn 
Overlord, Sec. IV, Statistics, Daily Red of Vehicles 
Loaded. 6 ,Jun-6 Sep 44, and Daily Red of Personnel 
Embarked^ 7 Jun-6 Sep 44; Hist, 17th Port, Ch. VI, 
pp. 33, 39. Last two in OCT HB Oversea Ports. 

' ' Hist Critique, p. 33; Gen Bd Rpt, USFET, Study 
22, p. 1 2, OCT HB ETO. 



THE INVASION OF NORMANDY 



265 



of the cargo vessels were discharged at the 
Bristol Channel ports, while troopships 
were unloaded at ports on the southern 
coast and in the Bristol Channel, Clyde, 
and Mersey areas. Also, forty-five vessels 
carrying boxed vehicles intended for 
troops who had arrived in the convoys 
were discharged at U.K. ports. "^ 

As the result of the continued move- 
ment of men and vehicles into the United 
Kingdom, outloadings to the Continent 
remained important into the spring of 
1945. By V-E Day, a grand total of 2,480,- 
432 U.S. troops and 422,608 vehicles had 
been loaded out from the United King- 
dom for delivery to the Continent." ' These 
figures represent but part of the activity of 
the U.K. ports, for at the same time they 
had been handling the large volume of 
supplies and equipment required to sup- 
port the build-up of U.S. forces on the far 
shore. 

Cargo 

As in the case of troop embarkations 
and vehicle loadings, the supplies and 
equipment for the assault and initial build- 
up phases of Overlord had been pre- 
loaded. On D Day cargo destined for de- 
livery to the Normandy beaches during 
the first eight days of the invasion had 
been placed aboard coasters, barges, and 
landing craft. Although some additional 
vessels were immediately available for 
loading supplies for delivery after D plus 
8, the sustained build-up phase of the sup- 
ply movement program was dependent on 
the return from the far shore of the coasters 
that were to operate on continuous shuttle 
runs from southern coast and Bristol 
Channel ports. 

Despite light losses at sea, the antici- 
pated prompt turnaround of vessels did 



not materialize. At the Bristol Channel 
ports, for example, coasters did not begin 
to arrive from the far shore until the 
second and third weeks following D Day. 
Meanwhile, the chief of transportation 
had ordered supplies and equipment from 
depots to U.K. ports to meet the projected 
daily requirements of the tactical forces on 
the Continent. As a consequence, the 
ports were soon glutted with cargo far in 
excess of available shipping, and deliveries 
to the far shore lagged behind the require- 
ments of the tactical forces. 

The underlying cause of the tie-up at 
the ports was the failure of vessels to re- 
turn promptly for reloading, and this was 
the result of delays in landing cargo on the 
far shore. As will be seen, selective dis- 
charge, adverse weather conditions, de- 
layed delivery of manifests, and depend- 
ence on lighterage and improvised cargo- 
handling methods all contributed to this 
lag. As the result of prolonged beach oper- 
ations and delays in opening and develop- 
ing ports on the Continent, ship turn- 
around continued to be a problem well 
into the fall of 1944, and the coaster fleet 
failed to live up to its planned capabili- 
ties."'' 

As early as 10 June 1944 it became ap- 
parent that the coaster fleet would not 
deliver the tonnage required on the far 
shore. Although the Operational Branch 
argued that loading additional vessels 
would not necessarily increase the dis- 



'-* Hist Critique, pp. 38-41. 

"■' This figure includes troops and vehicles of the as- 
sault and preloaded build-up forces. Trans Statistics 
ETO, 6 Jun 44-8 May 45, Stat Br OCT ETO, May 
43, p. 8, Table, U.K. Loadings to 8 May 45, OCT HB 
ETO Stat Rpts. 

■«Gen Bd Rpt. USFET, Study 129, pp. 17-21, 
OCT HB ETO; Consolidated Rpt on TC Activities in 
ETO, Annex 5, p. 16; Hist, 17th Port, Ch. VI, p. 35, 
OCT HB Oversea Ports. On discharge operations at 
the beaches see below, pp. 269-78. 



266 



THE TRANSPORTATION CORPS 



charge over the beaches, it received orders 
to increase outloadings. The Operational 
Branch accordingly arranged for the load- 
ing of 100,000 measurement tons of cargo 
on ten Liberties by the end of June." ' 

Meanwhile, the U.S. First Army had 
steadily increased its supply requirements. 
Since not enough shipping was available 
to lift such tonnages, the problem of priori- 
ties arose. Each service understandably 
pressed to accelerate the movement of its 
own supplies from the United Kingdom. 
The constant interjection of priority ship- 
ments had a disturbing effect on the flow 
of traffic from depots to ports. Depots often 
had to suspend work in the middle of a 
shipment to work on priority cargo, and 
therefore the port found itself with an in- 
complete shipment on hand and had to 
wait several days for the remainder. 
Priority shipments upset packing and 
marking at the depots; tended to cause 
congestion at the ports; and necessitated 
the cancellation of previously scheduled 
trains, thereby causing congestion at the 
depots and tying up rolling stock for 
extended periods. 

Although Transportation Corps move- 
ment officials realized that priorities were 
inevitable in view of the tactical situation, 
they believed that requests should have 
been more carefully screened and that 
they should have been limited to justifi- 
able cases. In their opinion the priorities 
granted were often unnecessary, a conten- 
tion that was given weight since some 
ships carrying priority cargo in the latter 
part of 1944 were allowed to lay at anchor 
off the far shore for weeks at a time.^** 

The necessity for meeting far shore re- 
quirements on a daily basis hampered the 
efficient movement of supplies from 
United Kingdom depots. As already indi- 
cated, tonnage requirements were prede- 



termined by the First Army and 1st Army 
Group according to the date of discharge 
on the Continent. The idea behind this 
procedure was that a certain amount of 
each type of supply, including ammuni- 
tion and packaged POL, should be dis- 
charged daily. A portion would be im- 
mediately used, and the remainder would 
be held to build up a reserve. Requisitions 
processed by the tactical commands were 
prepared for each day of discharge. Each 
item of supply was broken down into daily 
shipments, and vessels were to be loaded 
so that cargo scheduled for discharge on a 
designated date would be available at the 
proper time. 

Implementation of this procedure in- 
volved a tremendous amount of planning 
by Transportation Corps movements con- 
trol personnel and complicated the work 
of the U.K. depots and ports. The move- 
ment of supplies for delivery on a day-to- 
day basis made it necessary for depots to 
prepare a large number of small packages 
for shipment. The packages had to be 
scheduled for movement by rail or high- 
way in such a manner as to arrive at the 
port when required. At the ports, coasters 
had to be loaded in such fashion that a 
certain tonnage would be available for dis- 
charge on a given day. For example, a 
coaster that required three days to un- 
load, would be bottom-stowed with cargo 
for discharge on the third day. The second 
day's cargo would be placed above that, 
and the first day's cargo would be top- 
stowed. Since coasters varied greatly in 
size and construction, stowage for each 
had to be carefully planned in order to 
meet these daily requirements. Aside from 
the elaborate paper work and documenta- 

'" Hist Critique, pp. 68-69. 

"'^ Consolidated Rpt on TC Activities in ETO, 
Annex 5, pf). 15-16. 



THE INVASION OF NORMANDY 



267 



tion involved, this procedure placed a 
heavy burden on port storage facilities 
since the port could not load cargo for de- 
livery on the first and second day until the 
third day's cargo had arrived and been 
stowed. The task was further complicated 
by continuous changes in supply require- 
ments and by delays in processing requisi- 
tions. In some instances, shipping bids 
(DSSD's) actually arrived at the Opera- 
tional Branch after the date set for dis- 
charge on the Continent. Adjustments 
naturally proved difficult in view of the 
fact that the supply plan was based on the 
maximum capacity of depots and ports 
and the meticulous scheduling of rail and 
highway transport.'-' 

The scheduling of shipments for de- 
livery to the Continent on a daily basis 
was continued longer than was necessary. 
A theater General Board study concluded 
that while the setting up of daily supply 
requirements was essential in the initial 
operations, it was not desirable once some 
reserve stocks had been accumulated on 
the Continent. The board found that con- 
tinuation of this procedure had compli- 
cated depot operations, movement to the 
ports, and port activities. Its wastefulness 
becomes even more apparent when it is 
realized that the vessels on the far shore 
were not discharged in the planned se- 
quence, but according to needs arising out 
of the immediate tactical situation. Actual 
requirements could have been met more 
readily if the daily requisitions had been 
eliminated earlier.*" 

Despite a continuing lag of shipping, 
the U.K. ports had shipped out a huge 
volume of cargo by the end of September 
1944. Including the preloaded cargo, a 
total of 1,439,227 long tons of ammuni- 
tion, packaged POL, and general cargo 
had been outloaded. Peak loadings came 



in July 1944, when almost 450,000 long 
tons were moved out. Although it had 
been planned to reduce the coaster fleet in 
the latter phases of Overlord, the coaster 
continued to be the backbone of the sup- 
ply movement program, being assisted by 
relatively few deep-sea vessels. Aside from 
the tonnages listed above, large amounts 
of railway equipment, bulk coal, and bulk 
POL were moved to the Continent.*" 

The Bristol Channel ports of Avon- 
mouth, Barry, Cardiff, Newport, Penarth, 
Portishead, Port Talbot, Sharpness, and 
Swansea were all important in the ship- 
ment of Overlord cargo. Operations 
were supervised by the 17th Port, under 
the command of Col. Edward H. Connor, 
Jr. In addition to loading regular opera- 
tional tonnage, such as general cargo, 
packaged POL, and ammunition, a num- 
ber of these ports handled specialized 
cargo. Cardiff loaded Engineer heavy 
equipment and locomotives, principally 
on Liberties and seatrains. Bulk POL was 
loaded on tankers at Swansea. From 
Barry timber was shipped on coasters and 
Liberties or rafted to the far shore. Bagged 
coal was loaded at Cardiff and Swansea. 
Between May 1944, when preloading 
began, and the end of September, the 
Bristol Channel ports loaded a total of 868 
vessels with 1,037,332 long tons of U.S. 
cargo. This task was accomplished in ad- 
dition to routine discharges and loadings, 
which fluctuated between 104,000 and 
246,000 long tons per month. *'- 



'"'Ibid., pp. 13-14; Hist Critique, pp. 66-67. 

«o Gen Bd Rpt, USFET, Study 129, p. 20, OCT HB 
ETO. 

«' Hist Critique, pp. 76-77; TC MPR, 30 Jun 45, 
Table 10, Cargo Loaded Out of U.K. for Continent, 
OCT HB ETO Stat Rpts. 

■^-Hist, 17th Port, Ch. VI, pp. 35-38, OCT HB 
Oversea Ports. 



268 



THE TRANSPORTATION CORPS 



On the southern coast, the 14th Port at 
Southampton, in addition to handhng the 
greatest part of the troop and vehicle em- 
barkation program, outloaded a large 
proportion of the supplies and equip- 
ment moved to the Continent. The 14th 
Port handled the loading of coasters at 
Southampton and its subport at Poole; 
loaded approximately 90 percent of the 
rail equipment being shipped to the Con- 
tinent aboard LST's, seatrains, and fer- 
ries; and maintained a detachment at 
Hamble and Fawley to assist in the joint 
loading of British and American tankers. 
During the first ninety days of the in- 
vasion 14th Port outloadings, including 
ammunition, packaged POL, general 
cargo, bulk POL, and vehicles, totaled 
990,341 long tons. In the course of loading 
troops, vehicles, and cargo during this 
period, the port handled no fewer than 
3,517 vessels and landing craft. Other im- 
portant south coast ports were Fowey and 
Plymouth, which were used under the 
supervision of the 13th Port to load am- 
munition and packaged POL, respec- 
tively.'*^ 

Continental discharge of cargo arriving 
directly from the United States attained 
significant proportions in July 1944, and 
beginning in October increasingly out- 
stripped the tonnage being shipped from 
the United Kingdom. Outloadings from 
U.K. ports fell oflf appreciably in the fall 
of 1944, but again increased early the next 
year, reaching near peak proportions in 
the period March-May 1945." 

Despite a substantial cut in the tonnage 
allocated for movement from the United 
Kingdom to the Continent in September 
1944, erratic turnaround of coasters and 
the limited availability of supplementary 
deep-sea shipping caused the U.K. ports 
to experience continued difficulty in meet- 



ing outloading targets. By this time, how- 
ever, movements and loadings in the 
United Kingdom had become a less im- 
portant consideration than the discharge 
and clearance of cargo at continental 
ports. To facilitate the latter activities, the 
theater chief of transportation and the 
Communications Zone G-4 agreed on the 
adoption of a commodity-loading pro- 
gram. On 26 October the theater assigned 
ten Liberty ships to shuttle cargo from the 
U.K. ports to the Continent. As far as 
practicable, each of the vessels was to 
carry one class of supply for a single sup- 
ply service. It further directed that coast- 
ers should be commodity loaded when- 
ever possible, and that as a general rule all 
Quartermaster Class I and II, Ordnance 
Class II, and Engineer Class I and IV 
supplies should be so loaded. The supply 
services and the Air Forces were to project 
shipping bids for a minimum of one 
month ahead and to indicate the relative 
priority of the supplies they desired 
shipped. All coasters were to anchor off 
Le Havre and be diverted to Le Havre or 
Rouen as the situation warranted. The 
commodity-loading program got under 
way in November 1944. 

At the outset, the U.K. ports encoun- 
tered some trouble, since it was necessary 
to segregate their rather sizable cargo 
backlogs to conform to the new loading 
schedules. Also, the services failed to 
maintain the prescribed month's backlog 
of shipping bids, so that it was difficult to 
select and organize complete trainloads at 
the depots and ship supplies in the order 
of their priority. 



" Hist, 14th Port, Opn Overlord, pp. 17-24, and 
appended stat tables, OCT HB Oversea Ports; Hist 
Critique, p. 60. 

^' TC MPR, COMZONE ETOUSA, 30 Jun 45, 
Tables 7 and 10, OCT HB ETO Stat Rpts. 



THE INVASION OF NORMANDY 



269 



In early 1945 it was decided to cut the 
turnaround time of the coasters by assign- 
ing the entire coaster fleet to the south 
coast ports and to use the Bristol Channel 
ports to load most of the deep-sea vessels, 
chiefly of the Liberty and Hog Island 
types. The coaster fleet then operated 
mainly between Southampton, Poole, and 
Plymouth and Rouen. The larger vessels, 
except for a few used to load packaged 
POL from Plymouth, operated princi- 
pally between the Bristol Channel ports 
and Ghent. The bulk of the cargo on both 
the coasters and the larger vessels was 
either commodity loaded or block stowed. 
This reassignment of shipping paid off'in 
increased outloadings, and in March and 
April of 1945 the tonnage was surpassed 
only by the peak month of July 1944.^"' 

Shipments of U.S. cargo from the 
United Kingdom to the Continent con- 
tinued until several months after V-E Day. 
The tonnage total is impressive. Including 
preloaded cargo, a total of 3,065,682 long 
tons of general cargo, ammunition, and 
packaged POL was moved from U.K. 
depots to U.K. ports and thence to the 
Continent by 8 May 1945. This tonnage 
was transported principally by a fleet of 
small coasters, which were supplemented 
by Liberties and other deep-sea vessels. It 
does not include approximately 1,151,000 
tons of bulk coal and rolling stock, and a 
large volume of bulk POL outloaded from 
the United Kingdom. When the 422,608 
vehicles and 2,480,432 troops moved from 
Britain to the Continent are added, the 
full magnitude of the outloading opera- 
tion may be realized."'^ 



Beach and Early Port Operations 
With the assaults on the Omaha and 



Utah Beaches on 6June 1944, Engineer 
special brigade troops, assisted by assigned 
or attached service units, began the task of 
beach development and operation."^' Ger- 
man resistance was stronger at Omaha 
than at Utah, but on both beaches enemy 
shelling and sniping caused delay, damage 
to equipment, and casualties among the 
service troops. Cargo discharge was hin- 
dered initially by the many beach ob- 
stacles set up by the enemy and the 
inevitable debris and wreckage of the as- 
sault period. Mines had to be cleared to 
permit safe passage across the beaches, 
and roads had to be constructed. 

Transportation units participated in 
beach operations almost from the begin- 
ning. Port troops discharged cargo from 
vessels anchored offshore into amphibian 
trucks (DUKW's) and Navy ferry craft; 
amphibian truck units transported cargo 
from shipside to transfer points or dumps; 
and truck companies cleared the beaches. 
The Transportation Corps also furnished a 
major port headquarters, which had an 
important role. 



-^ ■ Hist Critique, pp. 76-86; TC MPR, COMZONE 
ETOUSA. Jun 45, Table 10, OCT HB ETO Stat 
Rpts. 

"'' Trans Statistics ETO, 6 Jun 44-8 May 45, Stat 
Br OCT ETO, May 45, p. 8, Table, U.K. Loadings 
to 8 May 45, and p. 19, Table, Total Cargo Handled 
Up to 8 May 45, OCT HB ETO Stat Rpts; Hist Cri- 
tique, pp. 87-89. 

■*' For details of the assaults see Historical Division, 
U.S. War Department, Omaha Beachhead (6 June-13 
June 1944 ) (Washington, 1945), and Historical Divi- 
sion, Department of the Army, Utah Beach to Cherbourg 
(6 June~27 June 1944) (Washington, 1948), both part 
of AMERICAN FORCES IN ACTION SERIES. 
Plans for opening Quineville beach, to the north of 
Utah Beach, were abandoned shortly after the in- 
vasion landing, and troops and equipment set up for 
that operation were employed at Utah. Rpt, Hq 1st 
ESB, Operation Neptune, Utah Beach, 6 June 1944- 
24 October 1944 (hereafter cited as Neptune Rpt, 
Utah Beach), OCT HB ETO Assault and Beach 
Opns. 



270 



THE TRANSPORTATION CORPS 



Omaha Beach 

The magnitude of the attack by the 
U.S. V Corps at Omaha caused the First 
U.S. Army to provide the support of two 
Engineer special brigades (the 5th and 
6th) and one port headquarters (the 1 1th). 
Over-all control was vested in a single 
headquarters, which, with various at- 
tached units, constituted the Provisional 
Engineer Special Brigade Group, under 
the command of Brig. Gen. William M. 
Hoge.^"^ Included in the headquarters was 
a Port, or G-5, Section, headed by Lt. Col. 
Carl Biehl, formerly with the 1 1th Port. 

While being readied for their mission, 
the brigades were heavily reinforced with 
transportation troops. Each brigade was 
provided with two port battalion head- 
quarters and ten port companies, one 
amphibian truck battalion headquarters 
and three amphibian truck companies, 
and one Quartermaster truck company 
with 104 vehicles. These transportation 
units aggregated approximately 6,300 
troops, almost one third the total strength 
of the two brigades. Among other units 
assigned to the brigades were Quarter- 
master service companies, which were to 
handle unloading activities on the 
beaches, and railhead companies. 

The 1 1th Port was furnished three port 
battalion headquarters and eighteen port 
companies, one Quartermaster trucking 
battalion headquarters and three com- 
panies, two amphibian truck battalion 
headquarters and six companies, one 
harbor craft company, three Quarter- 
master service battalions, and other serv- 
ice units, giving it a total strength of about 
8,600 officers and enlisted men. In com- 
mand was Colonel Whitcomb, an ex- 
perienced officer who had previously 
served at ports in Iceland and the United 
Kingdom.**'' 



Transportation Corps units serving with 
the brigades were scheduled to begin 
operations on D Day or shortly thereafter. 
In the United Kingdom, the brigade port 
companies were placed aboard cargo 
vessels, which were scheduled to arrive 
during the first three days of the invasion. 
After unloading their own vessels, the port 
troops were to go ashore and there dis- 
charge other vessels and craft anchored 
offshore and under the control of the 
brigades. Brigade DUKW units, their ve- 
hicles preloaded with ammunition, con- 
struction materials, and other cargo im- 
mediately needed, were to be launched 
from LST's beginning on D Day. After 
delivering their cargoes onto the beach, 
the DUKW's were to shuttle between the 
ships at anchor and the initial dumps. All 
DUKW's were scheduled to be in opera- 
tion by the end of D plus 2. Brigade 
trucks were to be brought ashore during 
the first day of operations.^" 

The 11th Port was not to engage in 
initial operations. Although an advance 
party was to arrive fairly early, its port 
troops were not to begin coming in until 
D plus 10 (17 June), when the artificial 
harbor (Mulberry A) would be about 
ready for operation. The principal mission 
of the 1 1th Port was to be the conduct of 
pierhead operations at Mulberry A and 
at the small ports of Grandcamp-les- 
Bains and Isigny, which were to be opened 
at about the same time, but its port troops 
were also to discharge ships anchored off- 



** Rpt, Prov ESB Gp, Operation Neptune, Omaha 
Beach, 26 February-26 June 1944, 30 Sep 44 (here- 
after cited as Neptune Rpt, Omaha Beach), p. 7, 
OCT HB ETO Assauh and Beach Opns. 

^'■' Ihid.. App. A, Troop List; Hist Rpt, TC ETO, 
Vol. IV, Sec. II, p. 1, OCT HB ETO; Interv, Larson 
with Whitcomb, 28 Jun 45, OCT HB ETO France 
Ports. 

'"' On truck operations on the beaches, sec below, 
pp. 2B2-84. 



THE INVASION OF NORMANDY 



271 



shore, and along with brigade troops 
operate cranes on the beaches.''^ 

The brigade DUKW units began their 
operations on schedule, first delivering 
their preloaded priority cargoes ashore, 
and then carrying cargo fi-om ship to shore 
and evacuating casualties. Operational 
difficulties were encountered early. Many 
DUKW's were sunk or damaged during 
the landings when they struck enemy-laid 
mines or other obstacles. Some overloaded 
DUKW's were swamped, and others, 
launched too far offshore, ran out of fuel 
and were lost at sea. Adequate mainte- 
nance and repair proved almost impossi- 
ble because of the shortage of spare parts 
and the round-the-clock activity."-' 

The story of the 453d Amphibian Truck 
Company is illustrative. The unit was 
alerted on 28 May 1944, and all vehicles 
with their drivers and assistant drivers 
were loaded aboard LST's. All other per- 
sonnel embarked on the APA 77 (USS 
Thurston). The convoy sailed from Wey- 
mouth on 5 June and laid off" Normandy 
until debarkation time on 6 June, when 
the bows of the LST's were opened some 
ten to fourteen miles from the coast. The 
DUKW's rolled off" stern first, formed 
columns, and headed for shore. The one 
officer and seventy-five enlisted men on 
APA 77 landed at approximately 1330 of 
D Day from an LCI, which was hit several 
times by enemy fire during the debarka- 
tion. In the initial operation six enlisted 
men were killed and seventeen DUKW's 
were lost. The vehicles could be put 
ashore only at low tide, when passage was 
possible through wrecked landing craft 
and beach obstacles to Road Exit 1. 

By daylight of 7 June most of the 453d 
Company's men and serviceable DUKW's 
had been assembled on the beach. After 
delivering its ammunition (thirty-six 
loads) to the 1st Infantry Division, the 



unit began evacuating the wounded. On 
the following day the drivers began to 
move supplies from ship to shore, continu- 
ing this assignment around the clock in 
twelve-hour shifts until 8 September 1944. 
Most types of cargo were delivered to 
DUKW's in sling or net loads. The aver- 
age load was approximately three tons, 
but in the first week as much was ac- 
cepted as was thought could be carried 
safely. During that period, because of the 
shortage of trucks, the DUKW's delivered 
directly to the dumps, which were located 
in the fields behind the beaches. There- 
after, service troops operating cranes on 
the beach transferred cargo to standard 
2V2-ton 6x6 trucks, freeing the amphibian 
trucks for their most vital function of 
spanning the water gap from ship to 
beach. '^'^ 

Despite the difficulties encountered in 
their operation, the DUKW's proved in- 
valuable during beach operations, as they 
had earlier at Salerno and Anzio. Al- 
though not adapted to the transport of 
bulky cargo such as Bailey bridge sec- 
tions, they were well suited to carry com- 
pact supplies such as ammunition and 
subsistence. They not only performed the 
function of a lighter, but also eased the 
burden of other vehicles and cargo-han- 
dling equipment ashore by transporting 



9' Neptune Rpt, Omaha Beach, pp. 183-86, 203, 
211. 

'^- The three DUKW companies of the 131st Quar- 
termaster Battalion, assigned to the 5th Engineer 
Special Brigade, lost 4 I DUKW's on 6 and 7 June. 
See Unit Hist, 7 Sep 44, OCT HB ETO Assault and 
Beach Opns (Rpt of Units of 5th ESB); and Hist Rpt, 
TC ETO, Vol. IV, Sec. 2, p. 2, OCT HB ETO. For 
a detailed account of DUKW operations, see Neptune 
Rpt. Omaha Beach, pp. 203-08. 

'■'■'• Later, the drivers and DUKW's of the 453d oper- 
ated at Le Havre, assisted the 90th Infantry Division 
in crossing the Moselle River, took part in the cross- 
ing of the Rhine, and were active on the Danube. See 
Unit Opnl Survey, 453d Amphib Truck Co, 2 Jul 45, 
OCT HB ETO Hwy MTB. 



272 



THE TRANSPORTATION CORPS 



supplies overland. In its after action re- 
port, the Engineer Special Brigade Group 
reported that the DUK W's had been in- 
strumental in the establishment of an 
orderly flow of cargo from ships across the 
beaches to the dumps.-" 

The unloading of cargo vessels, sched- 
uled to begin on D Day, was delayed one 
day by heavy enemy fire and then pro- 
ceeded slowly while the Engineers per- 
formed the necessary tasks of organizing 
and clearing the beaches. Among the earli- 
est Transportation Corps units at Omaha 
Beach was the 184th Port Company of the 
487th Port Battalion, which was attached 
to the 5th Engineer Special Brigade.-' ' The 
1 84th arrived aboard four coasters at 1 700 
on 6 June. Very little of the cargo aboard 
the vessels was removed during the first 
twenty-four hours, and at 1800 on 7 June 
enemy shellfire forced all the ships to with- 
draw. After the enemy guns had been 
silenced the vessels returned to the beach 
and discharge continued. As each coaster 
was unloaded, the port troops aboard came 
ashore and settled in foxholes on a hill 
overlooking the sea. The unit worked 
around the clock in twelve-hour shifts. Al- 
though it had landed with only a field 
desk and personal equipment, by borrow- 
ing from other units and by salvaging cap- 
tured and abandoned enemy material, the 
184th Port Company soon managed to 
erect suitable quarters and to serve two hot 
meals every day from two field ranges. Be- 
cause of the scarcity of cargo-handling 
gear, special slings had to be fashioned 
from spare lengths of cable and chain. For 
lack of docks or other shore facilities all 
cargo was unloaded from vessels at anchor 
into DUKW's, rhino barges, lighters, and 
LCT's."' 

Activities of the other units of the port 
battalions attached to the brigades fol- 



lowed a similar pattern. After unloading 
their vessels, mainly coasters and MTV's, 
they moved ashore, set up their bivouac 
areas, and began working assigned vessels. 
The port companies were ordinarily di- 
vided into 16-man to 18-man hatch gangs 
for the discharge of coasters, while 10 
winch operators and 5 other men were 
assigned to each motor-transport ship. 
Again, crews worked around the clock on 
twelve-hour shifts. Cargo handling on the 
shore was performed principally by Quar- 
termaster service companies.-'' 

Meanwhile, an advance party of the 
11 th Port headquarters had waded ashore 
at Omaha Beach on D plus 2 and estab- 
lished a command post in a partially de- 
stroyed building. Although the area was 
then being cleared, snipers fired sporadi- 
cally from surrounding cliflTs and enemy 
mines were more numerous than antici- 
pated. The men of the 1 1th Port immedi- 
ately joined Engineer brigade troops in 
removing the wreckage of landing craft 
and vehicles so as to permit cargo opera- 
tions. The remainder of the 11th Port 
headquarters reached Normandy in five 
increments between 9 and 22 June. Upon 
the arrival of its first attached operating 
unit, a Quartermaster service company, 
the 11th Port was assigned to the right 
hand sector of the beach, where Mulberry 
A was under construction. On 1 1 June the 

'" Neptune Rpt, Omaha Beach, p. 208. 

95 Neptune Rpt, Omaha Beach, p. 187; Unit Hist, 
184th Port Co TC (7-30 Jun 44), OCT HB ETO As- 
sault and Beach Opns (Rpts of Units of 5th ESB). 

'"' Rhino barges or ferries were constructed of 
ponton units and propelled by outboard motors. 
They could carry a heavy load and could discharge 
vehicles on a beach of almost any gradient. See Rpt, 
WTF, Amphibious. Operations, Invasion of Northern 
France, Jun 44 (hereafter cited as WTF Rpt, Invasion 
of France), Ch. VII, p. 3, OCT HB ETO Assault and 
Beach Opns; and Neptune Rpt, Omaha Beach, p. 
201. 

■'" Neptune Rpt, Omaha Beach, pp. 183, 191. 



THE INVASION OF NORMANDY 



273 



attached company began unloading its 
first vessel, the Liberty ship Henry M. Rice.-'^ 

The first weeks of cargo-handling oper- 
ations at Omaha Beach were beset with 
difficulties. Tonnage targets for the dis- 
charge of vehicles and supplies were not 
reached until D plus 18. For one thing, it 
was hard to learn exactly what was stowed 
in the ships lying offshore. Although such 
information had been compiled, it was 
often not on hand because of delay in 
transmission and inadequate ship-to-shore 
communications. To solve this problem a 
special organization known as WATCO 
(Water Transportation Control) was set up 
to maintain complete data on the ship- 
ment of supplies to the Continent. Operat- 
ing under the Amphibious Section, First 
U.S. Army, but manned largely by per- 
sonnel of the ADSEC Transportation Sec- 
tion, WATCO functioned until late in 
June. Its work was especially important in 
the early days of the invasion since vital 
equipment frequently had been left on 
ships anchored off the beach, while less 
urgently needed items were being un- 
loaded. The situation was aggravated by 
the tendency of the coaster captains to 
shift posidons because of air raids. As a 
result, it was not easy to find the vessels 
designated for discharge. One helpful ex- 
pedient adopted by 11 th Port officers was 
to tour the anchorage area in an LCM, 
spotting the desired ships and recording 
the location of others.'''' 

A distinct hindrance to prompt dis- 
charge was the priority unloading system 
set up by the First Army. Although priori- 
ties were necessary in the first days of 
hand-to-mouth operations, the resultant 
delay became so serious that all priorities 
were abandoned on 11 June. For a time 
ships were unloaded as rapidly as possible 
regardless of priority, and thus the num- 



ber of vessels at anchor awaiting discharge 
was cut down. But circumstances soon 
forced the resumption of selective dis- 
charge. A large backlog of ships again de- 
veloped during the severe storm of 19-22 
June, which caused the virtual suspension 
of discharge operations. Thereafter, in 
order to relieve arising supply shortages, 
particularly of ammunition, it again 
proved necessary to give priority to the 
locating and unloading of critically needed 
cargo. The effect of this selective unload- 
ing on ships' turnaround and its impact 
on outloading activities from the United 
Kingdom have already been discussed. As 
long as incoming shipping exceeded the 
capabilities of the continental beaches and 
ports, pressure for some type of selective 
discharge would remain. Nevertheless, the 
sound and effective procedure would have 
been to work each ship to completion.'"" 
Some delay developed because the 
Navy, at the outset, would not allow LST's 
to be beached and "dried out" for fear of 
damage."" A later reversal of this stand 
permitted direct landing of tanks and ve- 
hicles and made waterproofing unneces- 
sary. Ferry craft were also dried out and 
their cargoes discharged into trucks at low 



•"- Hist Rpt, TC ETO. Vol. IV, Sec. II, p. 1, OCT 
HB ETO; Memo. CO 1 1th Port for CO Omaha Beach 
Comd, 19 Jul 44, sub: Opn Rpt Neptune, OCT HB 
ETO Assault and Beach Opns. 

"" Hist, Trans Sec ADSEC, activation to 30 Sep 44, 
pp. 6-7, OCT HB ETO; Interv with Col Biehl, 29 Jun 
46, OCT HB ETO Misc; Extract from MS, Col Whit- 
comb. One War, Jan 46. OCT HB ETO Assault and 
Beach Opns; Rpt, 12 Army Gp, Final Report of 
Operations, VI, 21, OCT HB ETO. 

10" Ltr, Whitcomb to Larson, 5 Jul 49, OCT HB In- 
quiries; Neptune Rpt, Omaha Beach, pp. 113, 177- 
78, 188. 

1"! "Drying out" involved the beaching of craft at 
low tide so that their cargoes could be discharged di- 
rectly on the shore or to waiting trucks. The craft were 
refloated at high tide. Neptune Rpt, Omaha Beach, 
pp. 247-49; WTF Rpt, Invasion of France, Ch. V, p. 



274 



THE TRANSPORTATION CORPS 



tide. Another problem was to effect satis- 
factory arrangements for anchoring the 
ships and for the utiHzation of ferry craft. 
Co-ordination with the U.S. Navy, the re- 
sponsible agency, was a necessary part of 
the arrangements. Many ships at first were 
anchored so far offshore that they could 
not be worked efficiently. In desperation, 
beach personnel unloaded any ship that 
was near enough to be worked, regardless 
of its cargo. Subsequently, such measures 
as the assignment of additional ferry craft, 
the anchorage of ships closer to shore, and 
generally improved co-ordination between 
the Army and Navy brought appreciable 
relief^"" 

It was also found that the vessels at 
anchor frequently lacked suitable equip- 
ment to discharge bulky cargo. Ship's gear 
on some of the British coasters was in a 
poor state of repair, and damage resulted 
when winch brakes slipped or other break- 
downs occurred. Another hindrance to 
efficient unloading was the lack of slings 
and other gear for the discharge of deck- 
loaded vehicles aboard Liberty vessels ar- 
riving directly from the United States. ^"-^ 

During this period, the 11 th Port oper- 
ated under a number of serious handicaps. 
Its port companies, scheduled to begin ar- 
riving on 16 June, did not appear on the 
scene until a week later. In the interim, 
vessels were discharged by inexperienced 
troops from Quartermaster service units 
with officers drawn from port headquar- 
ters providing training and supervision. 
This was in marked contrast to the Engi- 
neer special brigades, which from the be- 
ginning had trained port units unloading 
the ships assigned to them. To make mat- 
ters worse, approximately 90 percent of 
the port's equipment, including tractors, 
warehouse trailers, mobile cranes, and 
pallets, was discharged at incorrect beach 



destinations. Considerable time elapsed 
before this equipment could be recovered. 
Moreover, the three attached Negro 
DUKW units, the first of which arrived on 
D plus 10, had inadequate training, and 
in some instances assistant drivers were 
barely able to operate the vehicles. Inex- 
perience in coping with tides and currents 
caused loss of time and damage to equip- 
ment, and considerable difficulty was en- 
countered in locating specific ships at night 
even after they had been found during 
daylight. Nevertheless, in the period of 
1 1 through 26 June, inclusive, the 1 1th 
Port worked 14 coasters and 11 motor 
transport vessels, discharging 2,679 vehi- 
cles and 12,200 long tons of cargo. ^^'^ 

By this time the 1 1th Port had also be- 
gun activities at the ports of Isigny and 
Grandcamp-les-Bains. Its other assigned 
mission, the operation of the artificial har- 
bor, had failed to materialize. The 11th 
Port continued to function at Omaha 
Beach until 21 July, when it moved out to 
concentrate its efforts at Isigny, Grand- 
camp-les-Bains, and a number of other 
minor Normandy ports.'""' 

The experience gained during the 
period that the 11th Port worked along- 
side the two Engineer special brigades 
gave rise to divergent views regarding the 
suitability of these organizations for beach 
operations. In its report covering beach 



'"- Hist Rpt, TC ETO, Vol. IV, Sec. 2, p. 2, OCT 
HB ETO; Neptune Rpt, Omaha Beach, pp. 173-77, 
179-80, 197-98. 

""Memo, CO 11th Port to CO Omaha Beach 
Comd, 19 Jul 44, sub: Opn Rpt Neptune, OCT HB 
ETO Assault and Beach Opns; Neptune Rpt, Omaha 
Beach, p. 191. 

""Memo, CO llth Port for CO Omaha Beach 
Comd, 19 Jul 44, sub: Opn Rpt Neptune, OCT HB 
ETO Assault and Beach Opns; MS, Whitcomb, One 
War, Ch. X, p. 10, OCT HB. 

'"'■ MS, Whitcomb, One War, Ch. XI, p. 16, OCT 
HB. 



THE INVASION OF NORMANDY 



275 



operations through 26 June 1944, the En- 
gineer Special Brigade Group recom- 
mended that "a port headquarters should 
not again be used to supervise beach oper- 
ations, since it is not designed nor has it 
been trained for this mission." '"" On the 
other hand, the 11th Port commander 
contended that while the Engineer special 
brigades were invaluable in clearing land 
mines, building roads, and otherwise 
opening beaches, they were not set up to 
handle continuing beach operations. He 
pointed out that after the first few days the 
principal activities were lighterage and 
cargo handling, with port, DUKW, Navy 
ferry craft, and other service troops per- 
forming the necessary jobs. The brigades 
and brigade group, he maintained, lacked 
the staff personnel and the experience to 
supervise this work properly. After the 
initial phases, in his opinion, a beach oper- 
ation was basically a matter of handling 
vessels and cargo, a mission for which a 
port headquarters was specifically in- 
tended.'"' 

77?^ Artificial Harbors 

In order to supplement discharge over 
the beaches during the period before the 
capture of a major port. Allied planners 
had projected two complete artificial har- 
bors, or Mulberries, one ("A") in the 
American sector at Omaha Beach and the 
other ("B") in the British sector of Arro- 
manches.^"* Each was to include an outer 
floating breakwater of bombardons, an 
inner breakwater of sunken concrete cais- 
sons or phoenixes, and a partial break- 
water, or Gooseberry, formed by sinking 
blockships moored bow-to-stern and de- 
signed to provide a sheltered area for tugs, 
barges, landing craft, and DUKW's. The 
primary objectives were to furnish a pro- 



tected anchorage for cargo discharge and 
to supply a safe harbor for small craft dur- 
ing storms. In addition, various floating 
piers and ponton causeways were to be 
constructed. The floating piers were in- 
tended to give space to unload tanks, 
trucks, troops, and general cargo from 
ships moored alongside, and the ponton 
causeways were to be employed to dis- 
charge troops and light vehicles. 

To tow the elements of the artificial 
harbors across the channel and site them 
was a sizable job, and Transportation 
Corps harbor craft companies and tugs 
gave valuable assistance. Mulberry A 
had a planned minimum capacity of 5,000 
long tons of supplies and 1,440 vehicles 
daily. The first blockships — selected from 
obsolete and damaged vessels — were sunk 
at Omaha Beach on D plus 1. During the 
ensuing fortnight considerable progress was 
made toward completing this installation. 

The unloading of men, equipment, and 
supplies had barely begun at Mulberry 
A when, on 19 June, a severe storm lashed 
the Normandy coast. On 20 June adverse 
weather stopped most operations on the 
artificial harbor and over the beaches, and 
by afternoon of that day the strong winds 
had halted all DUKW activity. By eve- 
ning it was impossible to moor or control 
any LCT's, LCVP's, or rhino barges. As 
the last personnel unloaded at Omaha 
Beach — a group of Army nurses — walked 
the length of Causeway No. 2, it began to 



lOH Nepxune Rpt, Omaha Beach, p. 365. 

'«' MS. Whitcomb, One War, Ch. IX, pp. 4-5, Ch. 
XI, p. ll,OCTHB. 

'"^ For additional details, sec Ruppenthal, op. cit., 
Chs. VII and X. See also Alfred Stanford, Force Mul- 
berry (New York: W. Morrow and Company, 1951); 
and Chapters IV and V of John Worth's proje